ABC News' Sunlen Miller reports:Calling it the "single largest boost to biomedical research in history" President Obama today traveled to the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland to announce the awarding of $5 billion in grants for research into cures for cancer, heart diseases, and autism among other diseases.The money comes from the $787 billion economic stimulus package – which allotted $10 billion for the NIH. The $5 billion being formally distributed today will support the 12,000 existing projects over the next two years. "We're announcing that we've awarded $5 billion — that's with a b — in grants, through the Recovery Act, to conduct cutting-edge research all across America, to unlock treatments to diseases that have long plagued humanity, to save and enrich the lives of people all over the world."Through the investment the NIH is expanding the Human Genome Project, which Mr. Obama said has made exciting progress by applying what scientists have learned to help understand, prevent and treat various forms of cancer, heart disease, and autism. The President struck a short personal tone, saying that cancer has reached him personally, his mother died of ovarian cancer in 1995. "This has extraordinary potential to help us better understand and treat this disease, "Obama said of the research investment, "Cancer has touched the lives of all Americans, including my own family's."Another important byproduct of the investment into research, Obama said, is the goal of the recovery act – to create and save jobs. "We also know that these investments will save jobs. They'll create new jobs: tens of thousands of jobs conducting research in manufacturing and supplying medical equipment and building and modernizing laboratories and research facilities all across America. And that's also what the Recovery Act is all about. It's not just about creating make-work jobs. It's about creating jobs that will make a lasting difference for our future."During his remarks the President stayed largely out of the health care debate going out on Capitol Hill this week, yet briefly touched upon the issue of naysayers in general who oppose any type of health care reform. "There are some who have opposed the reforms we're suggesting, saying it would lead to a takeover by the government of the health care sector. But this concern about the involvement in government, I should point out, has been present whenever we have sought to improve our health care system."Quoting FDR's address defending himself against similar accusations of a government takeover at the dedication of the NIH in 1970, President Obama said that his words are a stark reminder. "These words are a reminder that while we've made great advances in medicine, our debates haven't always kept pace. And these words remind us that there have always been those who argued against progress, but that, at our best, we've never allowed our fears to overwhelm our hopes for a brighter future."Before the President's speech he toured a laboratory at the NIH, and was shown brain cells in a microscope to see the difference between good cells versus bad cells. "You've got a pretty spiffy microscope," Obama said and then after checking added, "Well that is a brain."Dr. Francis Collins showed the President the microscopic images displayed on a video screen – comparing first a healthy brain and then a brain with cancer.
"This is the kind of cancer Senator Kennedy had," Collins told Obama.