October 21, 2021

Duckworth Re-introduces Bill to Increase Investments in Liver Cancer Research & Raise Awareness


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) today re-introduced legislation to increase federal support for liver cancer research and help make life-saving preventive and treatment services more accessible to people all across the country. The Liver Illness Visibility, Education and Research (LIVER) Act would boost funding for liver cancer research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) by $45 million and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) by $90 million while also implementing other new initiatives at these agencies to elevate this critical issue. A companion version was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Representative Nydia Velázquez (D-NY-07).

“Far too many Americans have died due to liver cancer, a disease that disproportionately impacts the Asian-American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) and Latinx communities,” Duckworth said.  “I’m proud to re-introduce this important legislation in the Senate today to help make sure the federal government is properly investing in studying liver cancer, finding a cure and increasing access to preventive and primary cancer services that detect the disease early and save lives.” 

“Like so many other types of cancer, liver cancer becomes much more treatable when it is detected early,” said Velázquez. “Unfortunately too many in our community have lost someone due to liver cancer or are struggling themselves to fight this disease with little to no support. This legislation would give our local hospitals and community health centers federal funds to study liver cancer and offer better access to preventative and primary cancer services. By deploying federal resources we can save lives and reduce the deadly effects of this disease.”

Specifically, the LIVER Act would:

  • Authorize an additional $45 million per year for 5 years for liver cancer and hepatitis B research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH)
  • Raise the profile of liver disease at the NIH by adding Liver to the name of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) to make it the National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive, Kidney and Liver Diseases
  • Elevate the Liver Branch at NIDDK to a Division and require that the new Liver Division report directly to the Institute Director
  • Direct the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to issue targeted calls for proposals, including a call for a new liver Specialized Program of Research Excellence for primary liver cancer, and have those proposals reviewed by a new Special Emphasis Panel
  • Direct NIH to establish an inter-institute working group to coordinate hepatitis B and liver cancer research.
  • Authorize an additional $90 million per year for 5 years for prevention and awareness grants at the CDC, including grants for screening, vaccination, and treatment for liver cancer, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and cirrhosis of the liver.

It is estimated that there will be nearly 42,000 liver cancer diagnoses in 2021, and among them, 30,000 individuals would die from the disease.

Duckworth has promoted medical research throughout her first term as a U.S. Senator. In January of 2019, she re-introduced a resolution with U.S. Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-IL-09) to recognize the need to increase awareness of sex- and gender-based biomedical research, the underrepresentation of women in past biomedical research and the importance of inclusive health research for women. 

The LIVER Act has been endorsed by the following organizations: Global Liver Institute, Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations, Hepatitis B Foundation & National Coalition Hep B United, AIDS Institute, AIDS United, Liver Health Coalition and Asian & Pacific Islander Health Forum.