In This Issue of The Research Advocate
Fiscal Cliff Avoided, Sequestration Still Looms
United Health Foundation Releases America's Health Rankings
ITIF Unveils 2012 State New Economy Index
Senate Appropriations Chair Daniel Inouye Dies
Report Examines Return on Investment for Publicly Funded Research
Portrait of Louis Stokes for NIH Building Unveiled
In the News
Download the entire January 2013 Research Advocate as a PDF.
Fiscal Cliff Avoided, Sequestration Still Looms
With bipartisan support, Congress and the White House have made a deal to avert the fiscal cliff. In the final deal, sequestration was delayed by two months, putting medical research funding at risk yet again.
The deal-crafted from negotiations between President Barack Obama and Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), and later Vice President Joe Biden and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY)-was passed first by the Senate less than two hours after 2013 began. The House took up the measure late on New Year's Day and passed it as well. Obama signed the measure days later. In addition to delaying sequestration, the legislation extends the majority of Bush-era tax cuts and fixes other expiring tax and spending provisions.
But, Nature reported, the deal also contained a provision that requires $12 billion in discretionary funding cuts over the next two years. Those cuts would be divided equally between military and civilian programs.
As that deal came together however, Congress held no vote on whether to repeal the medical device tax that took effect January 1. A 2.3% excise tax is now in place on medical devices, threatening as many as 43,000 jobs across the country, according to industry groups. Groups such as AdvaMed and the Medical Device Manufacturers Association, a Research!America member, have said they would continue fighting against the new tax. Research!America expressed concern about the tax in letters to the administration and congressional leadership.
Advocates have our work cut out for us. We must ensure that new and returning Members of Congress are fully informed about the impact of spending cuts and sequestration in our nation's unrivaled biomedical research and development pipeline, as well as its impact on health research that holds the key to bending the health care cost curve and the basic public health functions that protect Americans day in and day out. We must convince them that across-the-board cuts to these and other discretionary federal programs ignore the priorities of Americans and the strategic interests of America. And we must make this case as policy makers also grapple with raising the debt ceiling and calls by many House members for additional spending cuts. Weave in efforts to produce a budget for FY13 instead of resorting to a one-year continuing resolution, and it is clear that we must redouble our advocacy efforts in order to be heard.
Please keep a close eye on Mary Woolley's weekly letter for advocacy alerts and other tools you can use to make your voice heard. And we welcome your thoughts on advocacy strategies; please don't hesitate to contact Max Bronstein, director of science policy, at 571-482-2717 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
CPH Foundation Update
The CPH Foundation partnered with United Health Foundation to execute a tour of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for senior corporate leaders. "C-suite" participants from nearly 30 major companies were taken on a tour similar to those the CPH Foundation has previously organized for media, fellow nonprofits, congressional staff and Members of Congress. The briefings, visits to laboratories and networking opportunities with CDC's leaders provided a dialogue that gave both the participants and the CDC important insights. The CPH Foundation is now working with the CDC's senior management, our leadership and our partner organizations in the business sector to ensure the tour's promise is realized.
In polling conducted prior to the fiscal cliff deal, a majority of Americans did not believe Congress and the White House would reach a deal to avert the "fiscal cliff." Nearly 60% said they were skeptical a deal would be struck, according to new polling by Research!America in partnership with Zogby Analytics.
"Congress and the administration must make bold decisions to address our nation's deficit, but cutting funding for research should not be one of them," Research!America President and CEO Mary Woolley said in a statement. "We cannot afford to drain the research pipeline as other countries challenge our world leadership in science and innovation."
Other findings in the poll reveal deep concern about the state of medical research in the U.S.
Eighty-three percent said that medical research is important to reducing health care costs, and 87% said it is important to conduct research on how our health care system is functioning. And, even in this challenging economic environment, more than half said they would be willing to pay $1 per week more in taxes if that money would go toward medical research. That finding is no surprise, given that 55% of respondents said the U.S. is not making enough progress in medical research.
Download the full results at www.researchamerica.org/uploads/December2012pollslides.pdf.
United Health Foundation has released the 23rd edition of America's Health Rankings: A Call to Action for Individuals and Their Communities.
According to America's Health Rankings, Americans are living longer due to several medical advances, but unhealthy behavior and preventable illness threaten quality of life. This year's edition shows that Vermont is the nation's healthiest state for the sixth year in a row. Hawaii is second, followed by New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Minnesota. Mississippi and Louisiana are tied for the least healthy ranking, followed by Arkansas, West Virginia and South Carolina.
"As a nation, we've made extraordinary gains in longevity over the past decades, but as individuals we are regressing in our health," said Reed Tuckson, MD, medical adviser for United Health Foundation and executive vice president and chief of medical affairs for UnitedHealth Group. "We owe this progress not only to medical breakthroughs, but to public health advocates who are working tirelessly to advance wellness on the community level. But our public health heroes cannot do it alone. Longer lives need not be sicker lives, so we must all come together to do more to prevent the risk factors within our personal control."
To see the full report, go to www.americashealthrankings.org.
The Information Technology & Innovation Foundation has updated its State New Economy Index for 2012. The report ranks each of the 50 states based on 26 measurements that are indicative of the so-called "New Economy," which relies on knowledge and innovation for growth.
Written by ITIF President Robert D. Atkinson, PhD, and economic analyst Luke Stewart, the 2012 State New Economy Index ranks Massachusetts as the furthest along to the New Economy. Delaware, Washington, California and Maryland round out the top five. Massachusetts has ranked first since the reports began in 1999 and in the five updates since then.
To download the full report, visit http://itif.org/publications/2012-state-new-economy-index.
Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-HI), chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee and the highest-ranking Asian-American government official in U.S. history, died December 17. He was 88.
Inouye had chaired the appropriations committee since 2009, and he played a vital role in boosting funding for research. He was particularly focused on nursing and nursing research, as well as research for veterans and active service members. Inouye himself was a decorated combat veteran and lost his right arm during World War II.
In 1985, he played a key role in the opening of the National Center for Nursing Research; his advocacy was equally important eight years later when the center was elevated to a full institute at the National Institutes of Health. He was also instrumental in establishing nursing programs at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. Inouye received the Congressional Appreciation Award from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing in 2007.
After Inouye's death, Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) was named chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee. Mikulski is the 2012 winner of Research!America's Edwin C. Whitehead Award for Medical Research Advocacy.
The Center for American Progress has released a report on the rate of return from research at government agencies. The report goes beyond life science research but notes that several innovations to improve health have come from unexpected places.
According to the report, laboratories within the Department of Energy developed water purification techniques and better cancer therapies, and the National Science Foundation has had a hand in a number of biotechnology discoveries. The Human Genome Project figures prominently in the report; the biotechnology industry, which accounts for 5.4% of GDP relies heavily on advances in genetics.
To download the full report, visit http://bit.ly/TY4t4l.
Former Rep. Louis Stokes (D-OH), a Research!America emeritus director, was honored with a portrait that will hang at the Louis Stokes Laboratories building on the campus of the National Institutes of Health. The portrait was unveiled at the recent NIH-sponsored 2012 Summit on the Science of Health Disparities, held in suburban Washington, DC.
Several dignitaries participated in the unveiling ceremony, including Del. Donna Christensen, MD (D-VI); NIH Director Francis Collins, MD, PhD; former acting Surgeon General Audrey Manley, MD; and John Ruffin, PhD, director of the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities.
Stokes, who served in Congress for three decades, is the first African-American to have an NIH facility dedicated in his name.
Research!America President and CEO Mary Woolley wrote letters to the administration and congressional leaders in December asking them to consider the possible effects of a 2.3% medical device tax on medical devices, went into effect January 1.
"Over the last year, more than 6,000 job cuts were announced by 12 large medical device companies," Woolley wrote. "Data collection is in process for other reported job losses in this industry, most of them affecting employees in small medical device firms. Small companies comprise 98% of the medical device industry, and further cuts are anticipated."
The letter was sent to President Barack Obama and congressional leadership, including Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), House minority leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D-NV).
Congress is considering major changes in federal policy in order to reduce the deficit, including "sequestration," which means arbitrary, across-the-board budget cuts to defense and non-defense spending. Sequestration or similar sweeping cuts to "discretionary" federal funding would dramatically reduce funding for medical research and critical public health functions.
We can't let that happen. Deficit reduction is important, but there are ways to achieve it that do not compromise American lives and American progress. Arbitrary budget cuts that abandon medical research are wrong. Join dozens of organizations and tell Congress: WE NEED CURES, NOT CUTS!
The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia was founded in 1855, but it took nearly seven decades for research to become part of the institution's mission. Growing from a one-room laboratory in 1922, Children's Hospital has made incredible progress since: the basis of the foundation of the Society for Pediatric Research, the country's first pediatric research department, and numerous scientific breakthroughs and vaccine discoveries.
Children's Hospital's 10 Centers of Emphasis encompass seemingly disparate research areas, but all contribute to the greater strategic goals of the hospital's research efforts.
"Our interests are embedded in those Centers of Emphasis," said Philip R. Johnson, MD, director of the hospital's research institute as well as its chief scientific officer and an executive vice president. The centers that Johnson oversees are dedicated to applied genomics, autism, biomedical informatics, cellular and molecular therapies, pediatric cancer, developmental biology and pediatric disorders, injury research and prevention, mitochondrial and epigenomic medicine, pediatric clinical effectiveness, and even health care policy.
The hospital also supports Research Affinity Groups, which Johnson likened to a "grassroots" effort among researchers to explore topics of interest. The groups, designed to encourage interdisciplinary approaches to child health and development, cover areas different from the Centers of Emphasis.
Johnson's own research centers on finding a vaccine for HIV, but not in the traditional way a vaccine works. Instead, viruses are used to carry genes that code for HIV antibodies. When injected into muscle, the muscle takes over production of those antibodies which can then defeat HIV. Johnson said this concept is nearing a clinical trial in humans. The hope, then, is that such an approach might be useful in developing similar vaccines for other diseases and conditions as well.
Research!America's efforts to educate the public and policy makers are a big reason why Children's Hospital is a member, Johnson said.
"It's amazing the amount of misunderstanding about research that exists in the general population," Johnson said. "... They understand it's important, but they don't understand the mechanics of it, the politics and the support that's required.
"Research!America does a better job of that than anybody else, and that's why we're very supportive of the activities."
For more, visit www.research.chop.edu.
As we enter a new year-Research!America's 24th-we are committed to a number of resolutions: aggressive advocacy for medical research as the new Congress takes on the delayed but increasingly complex implementation of sequestration; demonstrating the value of taxpayer-supported research and taxpayer-supported agencies that are responsible for research, public health and regulation; emphasizing the importance of the bioscience business sector-pharmaceutical, biotech, medical device and the host of research-related industries-to our nation's economy; educating new and continuing Members of Congress with the goal of developing more champions; and working with our members to assure that we all-all sectors of the research ecosystem, patients and caregivers very much included-stay united in our determination to make research for health a top priority. Consistently, our national public opinion polls show that most Americans expect lawmakers to do more to expand research and innovation. The public is on our side, and we will work with you to leverage that support in 2013. It would be great to hear from you early this year, with your ideas and recommendations for our work. And it would be even better to hear how you are engaged in advocacy-your efforts could be the very ones that we want to replicate and promulgate to others!
Speaking of advocates, plan now to join us on March 13, 2013, here in Washington to celebrate a stellar group of awardees. For details, see www.researchamerica.org/advocacy_awards.
Future of Research Funding
Research!America President and CEO Mary Woolley was quoted in the Houston Business Journal about insufficient government support for research and its impact on the Houston metro area. Woolley said that current funding levels also stymie U.S. global competitiveness. "Other countries aren't waiting around for the U.S. to get its feet back on the ground in prioritizing research and development in bio research," she said.
Research!America Board member Larry J. Shapiro, MD, executive vice chancellor for medical affairs at Washington University in St. Louis and dean of the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, wrote an op-ed describing the devastating consequences of cuts to medical research in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. An op-ed in The (Nashville) Tennessean, written by Jeff Balser, MD, PhD, vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine at Vanderbilt University, focused on the impact of going over the "fiscal cliff" for biomedical research. In addition, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign student newspaper, The Daily Illini, included Research!America in an article about grant writing and university research funding levels.
What the Fiscal Cliff Means for Biotechnology
Eleanor "Ellie" Dehoney, Research!America's vice president for programs and policy, was quoted in Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News about how the biotechnology industry would fare under the fiscal cliff. "Think about biologics: They're very expensive, they're very expensive to produce, and they're high risk. If reimbursement goes down, you'll find a reduction in the availability of venture capital," Dehoney said.
Medical Device Tax
Research!America was mentioned in POLITICO Pro and CQ Healthbeat articles related to the medical device tax. Both articles highlight Mary Woolley's letter to congressional leadership and the president outlining concerns related to the tax, including the effect of job losses in the industry. "It would be tragic if federal policies associated with health reform inadvertently compromise the research and development necessary to move basic scientific discovery from the bench to the bedside," she wrote.
Sustain Investments in America's Health
The Boston Business Journal published an op-ed by John Erwin, executive director of the Conference of Boston Teaching Hospitals, a Research!America member. The piece calls attention to the impact that sequestration would have on the Boston-area economy. "If we are to meet the health challenges of an aging and increasingly diverse population, continue to foster the type of innovation that will drive our regional economy, and remain a vibrant force in the global economy, sequestration cannot happen," Erwin wrote. "America needs to invest more, not less, in medical research."
In December, Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi), Doctors Without Borders and Mount Sinai Global Health hosted a conference in New York to spur innovation for new tools to combat neglected tropical diseases. Conference attendees agreed that, in order to truly help combat the growing threat of NTDs, there must be a new framework for global health R&D with an emphasis on public financing and integrated access.
Although there is significant work to be done, 2013 is poised to be an exciting time for raising awareness and support of NTD R&D. The conference made it clear that NTDs are gaining attention nationwide-particularly as neglected diseases, such as dengue fever and Chagas disease, are becoming an increasingly large threat in the U.S. Research!America will continue to draw attention to and advance neglected disease R&D at our panel discussion, "Are NTDs a growing threat? Research, access and the next steps," at the annual Consortium of Universities for Global Health Conference in Washington, DC, on March 14.
Research!America Extends Special Thanks to our Principal Partners
2013 ADVOCACY AWARDS
PROGRAM PARTNER: Lilly
SPONSOR: Genentech, The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center
FRIEND: Baylor College of Medicine, Evan Jones, March of Dimes Foundation, Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine
“WE NEED CURES, NOT CUTS” CAMPAIGN: Illumina, Inc.
SCIENCE POLICY FELLOWSHIP: Howard Hughes Medical Institute
POLLING PARTNER: Zogby Analytics
SUMMIT ON PAIN RESEARCH: Endo Health Solutions
GENERAL SUPPORT: The Baltimore Family Fund, The Dana Foundation
Visit www.researchamerica.org/partnership_opportunities for ways to support Research!America.
Association of Anatomists
American Geriatrics Society
American Medical Group Association
Association for Prevention Teaching and Research
Association of Professors of Human and Medical Genetics
California Biomedical Research Association
California Institute for Regenerative Medicine
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
The Endocrine Society
Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB)
The Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing
La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology
National Multiple Sclerosis Society
New York Stem Cell Foundation
Northeast Ohio Medical University
The Ohio State University College of Public Health
Purdue Pharma L.P.
Texas A&M Health Science Center
University of Arizona
University of California, Irvine
University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing
Not yet a member? Join Research!America today at www.researchamerica.org/become_member.
Download the entire January 2013 Research Advocate as a PDF.