The 21st Century Cures Act's passage has brought monumental improvements to neuroscience and behavioral healthcare. One Mind / Janssen Rising Star Awardee Dr. Kafui Dzirasa's work has been instrumental in its passage.

With landslide bipartisan votes in the U.S. House of Representatives, the Senate, and a signing by President Barack Obama, the 21st Century Cures Act has become law. This Act includes major, forward-thinking revisions to federal behavioral health policy and funding, and support for accelerating research to improve treatments.
 
Among the Act’s provisions are:
  • Stronger enforcement of parity laws to enable patients to be reimbursed by insurance providers for mental health services identically to “physical” medical services
  • Creation of a Presidentially-appointed Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Abuse
  • Decriminalization of mental illness by providing grants for training law enforcement and criminal jusice personnel to work with mental health consumers, and establishing Federal mental health courts 
  • Support for training more mental health professionals
  • Support for various programs to prevent suicide, and to prevent the onset of serious mental illness in youth who have experienced trauma
  • $4.8 billion in additional funding for the National Institutes of Health, including $1.51 billion in funding for the BRAIN Initiative

We at One Mind cheer for these provisions, and believe they will go miles to improve recovery prospects for patients.

In the years leading up to the passage of this Act, One Mind / Janssen Rising Star Awardee Kafui Dzirasa, M.D., Ph.D., has played a prominent advocacy role in advising the federal government on brain health research. In Dr. Dzirasa’s own words to us at One Mind:

“The organization FasterCures played a seminal role in the bill’s passage. I connected with FasterCures in 2012 right before ‘Sequestration’. NIH and FasterCures put on a event called Celebration of Science to highlight the contributions of medical research to society in order to avoid budget cuts. I was selected to lead the Neuroscience presentation, and several of the congressional leaders on stage at the signing attended and participated in the event. 

In 2013, I joined FasterCures in advocating to create new funding mechanisms for young scientists as a means to promote innovation. I was also invited to share my ideas with the bill’s author’s Fred Upton and Dianna DeGette, and provided a written proposal to Fred Upton’s lead staffer.

One of the NIH leaders that helped coordinate the 2012 Celebration of Science joined the White House Office of Science and Technology in 2015. When the President coordinated a massive symposium to highlight Neuroscience (BRAIN Initiative), precision medicine, and science frontiers last October, the Office of Science and Technology reached out to me to join the President for an hour panel. FasterCures then invited me to join the Director of the NIH and the Executive Director of Biden’s Cancer moonshot for another panel in mid November.

I was beyond excited to see the bill pass, and couldn’t have imagined any scenario where I would be able watch the signing in person. I was totally stunned and humbled when the White House asked me 4 days before the signing to join the President on the stage.

Its been an exhausting, but extremely rewarding year. I can honestly say that I’ve done everything in my power to make life better for our loved ones. Thank you for all of your support.”

All of us at One Mind are so proud of the work of the dynamic Dr. Dzirasa, and thank our donors for enabling us to support his research.

Watch a riveting 2013 talk by Dr. Dzirasa at a FasterCures conference on the path to the 21st Century Cures Act: 

21st Century Cures ActKafui Dzirasa