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Weighing in at nearly 1000 pages, this bipartisan bill is the product of years of hard work by Republican and Democratic lawmakers, in collaboration with a broad array of diverse stakeholders. As with any landmark piece of legislation, the complex negotiations leading up to its passage were challenging and intense. But the final provisions are well worth heralding, including increased support for state efforts to combat opioid abuse, new steps aimed at improving mental health services, and important changes affecting the Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Here, we focus on aspects of the Cures Act that are directly relevant to the NIH’s mission — measures that will provide the agency with critical tools and resources to advance biomedical research across the spectrum from basic, curiosity-driven studies to advanced clinical trials of promising new therapies. Affecting everyone from researchers to research participants to patients suffering from numerous conditions, these measures will cut bureaucratic red tape that slows the progress of science, enhance data sharing and privacy protections for research volunteers, improve support for the next generation of biomedical researchers, exhort the NIH to extend its efforts to ensure inclusion of diverse populations, and provide the NIH with a bolus of additional funding over 10 years for key biomedical research initiatives.

Some key measures reduce red tape. Policies generated with the best intentions sometimes have serious adverse consequences for research. Two needlessly obstructive policies have been undone by the Cures Act — one dealing with paperwork and the other with scientific meetings.

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NEJM

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