Mr. KERREY. Madam President, I rise to issue a challenge that I hope will be answered with the creation of a stimulating partnership between business, medicine, and the Government, in this case the Federal Government. An important relationship is developing today between U.S. intelligence and the medical communities.
Technology to support intelligence analysis is being adapted to improve significantly a doctor's ability to detect breast cancer in its earliest stages. Over 46,000 women die each year. The early estimates are, with this technology, that up to one-third of these women could be saved as a consequence of this technology conversion.
The technology being developed is simple to describe but very difficult to achieve. Daily, intelligence analysts deal with the problem of detecting changes in photographic images they are reviewing. As they watch foreign airfields, they want to know arrivals, bed-down, and departures of aircraft. As they watch foreign seaports, they want to know the arrivals, unloading, and departures of ships carrying cargo of interest. Computer software can be of great assistance in automatically detecting these sorts of changes at airfields and at seaports. It is this intelligence technology that is being adapted for the medical community.
Early detection of breast cancer currently relies heavily on the judgment and professional experience of doctors who review mammograms and magnetic resonance images. A significant part of their judgment is based on comparing previous images with the current image of a woman's breast. As in the intelligence world, detecting change is fundamental to understanding what is going on.
Through some exciting developments managed by the National Information Display Lab at the David Sarnoff Labs in Princeton, NJ, computer analytical techniques are being developed for the medical community. Relying on the technology developed for intelligence, they are adapting the technology to combat a dreaded disease that attacks 1 in 8 women in America today.
Madam President, I want to emphasize that the tens of thousands of lives that already have been saved as a result of intelligence technology by providing more effective national defense will be complemented by the thousands of lives that will be saved through the earlier detection of breast cancer.
This is an excellent example of the sound investment of taxpayers' dollars being paid off by saving thousands of lives in both national defense and medicine.
The National Information Display Lab, or NIDL, is an inspiring arrangement that needs to be duplicated by other Government/private-sector relationships. NIDL provides the bridge between Government/civilian-sector requirements and Government/civilian-sector technology. By understanding both requirements and technologies, NIDL is able to help close the gap between the Government and the private sector. Perhaps the most significant part of NIDL's story is their funding. NIDL relies on Government funding to begin to develop technology, which is then spun off to the commercial world for civilian and Government applications.
On Tuesday of this week, Madam President, the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, Senator Arlen Specter, and I announced intelligence community funding to begin the technology transfer for breast cancer research. The community is providing $375,000 to the NIDL to push the technology ahead. We are all aware of the intelligence community's keen sense of urgency, great technical expertise, and excellent planning skills which will ensure that the push forward has an effective start.
I also want to personally thank President Clinton for making all of this happen. His commitment to breaking down the walls between defense technology and commercial technology, and his passion to attack the Nation's health problems with every weapon in our arsenal are the reasons this project is going forward. Once he knew that intelligence systems could bring earlier detection of breast cancer, this Government acted with determination and dispatch.
I began, Madam President, by saying that I was issuing a challenge. The challenge is this: Will all the interested parties--Government, medical, and commercial--now pick up the ball that has been put into play and carry it forward so that within 12 to 24 months--I emphasize this, Madam President, because this start will not come to completion unless we set a deadline and say that within 12 to 24 months, we are going to carry this technology forward into the clinical labs and clinics of this country, so that within this period of time, more women's lives will be saved through the earlier detection of breast cancer. The National Information Display Lab must be put on a sound financial basis, and everyone must help. I hope the challenge will be met.
I yield the floor.
Mr. BENNETT. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that I be allowed to speak in morning business for up to 15 minutes.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.