In This Issue
From Capitol Hill
In the News
Supplemental Appropriations Approved
A science package including funding for several research agencies was approved by Congress and the president as part of the war supplemental appropriations bill. The initiative is intended to "help promote investments in long-term economic development, maintain global competitiveness, environmental cleanup and advance our medical research capabilities," said Sen. Robert C. Byrd (WV), Senate Appropriations Committee chair.
The package includes $150 million for the National Institutes of Health and $62.5 million for the National Science Foundation. Science funding was added to the bill through a domestic spending amendment, which also included $150 million for the Food & Drug Administration. It easily passed the House (416-12) and Senate (92-6) and was signed into law by the president on June 30.
Thank you to the many advocates who voiced their support, including those involved with the Campaign for Medical Research. We urge you to thank your members of Congress.
Proposed legislation in both chambers for FY09 appropriations includes notable increases in the budgets of several research agencies. The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health, Human Services and Education proposed a spending bill that includes increases from 2008 levels of $1.15 billion for NIH, $156 million for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and $40 million for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Rep. David Obey (WI), House Appropriations Committee chair, noted this is the largest increase in six years for NIH and is intended to support more than 1,000 new research grants.
The Senate version of the bill includes increases of $1.02 billion for NIH and $77 million for CDC, but flat funding for AHRQ, compared to 2008 levels. Sen. Tom Harkin (IA), Senate Labor-HHS Appropriations Subcommittee chair, said the increases in the NIH budget were necessary to keep up with biomedical inflation and to prevent the loss of young researchers to other fields. Ranking member Sen. Arlen Specter (PA) was disappointed in the bill, "There is so much more that could be done if we had the funding."
The NSF fared much better as the House and Senate both proposed a 13% increase in its budget in their FY09 Commerce, Science and Justice Appropriations bills.
CPH Lays 09 Groundwork
The Campaign for Public Health hosted leaders interested in learning more about CPH in New York and DC, June 26 and July 7, respectively. CPH board chair Evan Jones and executive director Karl Moeller spoke about strategies to strengthen and support the CDC.
The Public Health Leaders Roundtable, a new CPH-led working group, was discussed. The Congressional Study Group on Public Health has nearly doubled, from 15 to 27 members, since 2007. The study group is active in educating members of Congress and their staffs about public health efforts and was founded early in 2007. See www.FundCDC.org.
U.S. scientific innovation holds much promise, Mary Woolley, Research!America president, told an audience at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's forum "Science Advancing Society: Life Sciences Innovation and America's Health" on June 9.
Paul S. Speranza Jr., immediate past chair of the U.S. Chamber Board of Directors, provided opening remarks. Scott Gottleib, MD, was the featured speaker, and The Hon. Billy Tauzin, president and CEO of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America and Research!America board member, also spoke.
Woolley cited Research!America public opinion poll findings that 79% of Americans think the U.S. is losing its global competitive edge in science, technology, and innovation-a 14% increase since 2006. She shared similar points at the Larta Institute's Life Sciences Venture Forum on May 30 in California.
Woolley also gave remarks at the National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research/Alliance for Eye and Vision Research's 15th anniversary reception on June 9, where Research!America's updated vision and blindness fact sheet from the Investment in Research Saves Lives and Money series was released. NAEVR is a Research!America member.
Woolley reiterated this point and also gave advice to scientists and the public about how to proactively support research, at the Congressional Quarterly-Komen for the Cure Forum on June 4. Research!America board member Elmer E. Huerta, MD, MPH, also spoke about his work in cancer prevention. Woolley said, "It is time for the research community to set up local advisory committees to be responsive to NIH funding at the local level."
Stacie Propst, PhD, vice president of policy and outreach at Research!America, spoke at a June 11 Biotechnology Industry Organization briefing: Health, Research and the Elections. BIO is a Research!America member. Propst discussed Research!America's Your Candidates-Your Health.
To a standing-room audience of 109, representing 24 Congressional offices, Research!America, the Global Health Council and World Health Organization's Special Program for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases co-sponsored a June 23 Capitol Hill briefing, "Working Smart in Global Health: Learning as We Deliver."
Speakers included Paul G. Rogers Society for Global Health Research Ambassador Peter Hotez, MD, PhD; NIH's Fogarty International Center's Deputy Director Michael P. Johnson, MD; WHOTDR's Director Robert Ridley, PhD; and Oladele Akogun, PhD, MPH, of Nigeria's Federal University of Yola.
Research!America's global health research related media outreach most recently resulted in coverage by The New York Times, The Indianapolis Star and Oklahoma's Tulsa World and Edmund Sun.
The Times ran a letter to the editor by Research!America's Karen Goraleski, who responded to its June 2 article "A $10 Mosquito Net is Making Charity Cool." Goraleski's letter emphasized the role of research in identifying such nets for malaria prevention.
Rogers Society Ambassador William Tierney, MD, was featured in The Indianapolis Star for his contributions to global health research. The Star's lengthy article and several photographs conveyed the value of Tierney's work, which has included bringing the first outpatient electronic medical system to sub-Saharan Africa.
In addition, the Tulsa World and the Edmond Sun ran an opinion editorial by Hotez and University of Oklahoma College of Public Health Dean Gary E. Raskob, PhD, "Sometimes bumpy road pays large dividends for health."
In addition, Rogers Society Ambassador Wafaa El-Sadr, MD, MPH, has been named to the WHO's Strategic and Technical Advisory Group on Tuberculosis. She is among 20 international TB experts selected to advise the WHO on its global TB control activities.
For more information, visit www.researchamerica.org/pgr_society.
The elections are less than four months away, and campaigns are in full swing. Research!America and 41 partner organizations are asking presidential and congressional candidates to go public with their views on health, science and research through Your Candidates-Your Health 2008. So far, nearly 100 candidates for Congress have shared their stances on these important issues. Candidates are being invited as each state's congressional primary occurs. Join the Your Candidates -Your Health Facebook group for more information on your state's primary. Presidential candidates have also been invited to participate, and Sen. Barack Obama, has responded.
Visit www.yourcandidatesyourhealth.orgto view your candidates' responses. Contact information is provided so visitors can quickly thank candidates who have already participated and encourage those who haven't yet responded to take part. An advertisement has been developed (see insert) and will run in The Hill newspaper during the Democratic and Republican conventions. The initiative will also be advertised on www.parade.com.
A recent Research!America/ScienceDebate2008 poll shows that 85% of Americans want a presidential debate on science. ScienceDebate2008 continues to call for such a debate. See www.sciencedebate2008.com.
Putting Research On The Political Radar
The American Association for the Advancement of Science's annual Forum on Science and Technology Policy was May 8 and 9 in Washington. Experts discussed the future of scientific research and the issues the scientific community faces today. Other major topics were the importance of advocacy for scientific research and the ways in which new media can be used to advocate for science. The Honorable John Edward Porter, Research!America chair, urged scientists to convey the importance of their work to elected officials and to current presidential and congressional candidates. Science and The Scientist each quoted his call to scientists to "get out of their comfort zone and get in the game."
The State of Mental Health In Louisiana
Stacie Propst, PhD, vice president of science policy and outreach at Research!America, presented the findings of Research!America's poll on mental health and public health in post-Katrina Louisiana on the Tavis Smiley Radio Show. The show, "Mental Health Safety Net," was part of the "My America 2008" series and aired on Public Radio International. According to the poll, Louisianans want more mental health resources and believe that research funding is instrumental to reach that goal.
Research!America/ScienceDebate2008 Poll Released
Research!America and ScienceDebate2008 partnered to release a new poll on science and policy. According to the poll, 85% of Americans believe that the presidential candidates should participate in a debate to discuss science policy, and half of Americans believe that scientific research has contributed a great deal to their quality of life today. Findings from the poll were featured on MSNBC.com's "Cosmic Log" and on Chris Mooney and Sheril Kirshenbaum's blog The Intersection.
Preventing Disease Before Its Onset
The Washington Post profiled Research!America board member Elmer E. Huerta, MD, MPH, director of the Cancer Preventorium at Washington Hospital Center. Huerta's one-of-akind clinic is aimed at preventing cancer in low-income Latina women. Huerta has daily radio spots and a television program both focused on prevention.
Making Science Relevant
Sally G. Hoskins, PhD, professor of biology at the City College of the City University of New York, wrote an editorial in Newsweek (June 16) about the difficulty of keeping students attentive in her core undergraduate biology class. She offered insights on making science relevant even to skeptical audiences.
The Sanford Project Announces Its Research Goal
After much deliberation, the Sanford Health medical center announced the $400 million Sanford Project will focus on curing type 1 diabetes. Sanford Health chose to pinpoint a goal before building its research infrastructure. In an article in the Argus Leader (Sioux Falls, SD), Mary Woolley compared the Sanford project to the war on cancer in the 1970s: "Needless to say, we didn't eliminate all cancer in that time, but we made substantial progress."
If you're put off by the drumbeat of 24/7 election coverage, you're not alone, but there will be no relief over the coming months! In this overheated, media sound-bite campaign environment, we don't expect to see much thoughtful debate on how science will inform presidential and congressional decision-making in 2009 and beyond.
Yet many candidates for Congress have already weighed in on our issues at www.yourcandidatesyourhealth.org. That is a testimony to two things: the hard work of advocates and the fact that health and hope for better health are, like education and a strong economy, abiding American values.
As we position advocacy for research alongside daily reports of the enormous challenges facing our nation, it's important to emphasize the capacity of research to solve problems-re-organizing our health system to one that works- and to create economic vibrancy.
There is some, but not enough, awareness among our currently elected leaders that research is a solution. Against considerable odds, additional funding for science was included in the supplemental bill passed by Congress and signed by the president in late June. Advocates continue to press for more investment in research in the still-stalled appropriations bills. Regardless of the outcome, putting down a marker is important.
Listen carefully to the acceptance speeches at the political conventions; you will hear markers of a different kind: themes the candidates and their advisers have tested and are believed to reflect voters' values. Do all you can to assure that the theme of research as this nation's pre-eminent problem-solver and inspiration for a better future is driven home to your candidates.
The American Association for Dental Research, the largest division of the International Association for Dental Research, is a non-profit organization with nearly 4,000 members in the U.S.
Dental research leads to better ways to prevent, treat and cure dental, oral and craniofacial diseases and disorders, as well as systemic diseases.
"The field of oral health research is robust and paying dividends, in terms of new treatments, and to the taxpayers who fund the National Institutes of Health budget," said Christopher H. Fox, DMD, DMSc, AADR executive director. "Our research community foresees a day when the patient, during a semi-annual dental check up, will provide a small amount of saliva that will be able to detect the early onset of many systemic diseases and conditions."
Significant research advances will, of course, require greater public and private investment, Fox said. To this end, the AADR urges its members to maintain relationships with their members of Congress, which can help lead to a policy environment more conducive to greater investment.
"With the tightening of the federal budget, many areas of research have realized cuts and flat-budgeting for the past five years," he said. "Yet, we as a research community continue to advocate for year-over-year increases that do not reflect the cumulative effect of five years of flat funding. We seem to have been doing Congress' job for them- asking for politically achievable goals instead of educating them on the true realities of our budget needs."
The AADR also encourages its members to attend local town hall meetings so that they are viewed as a trusted source of information about oral health research, which can help put research funding and issues such as health disparities on the national policy agenda. In addition, the association asks its members to further engage Congress by inviting respective members to dental research labs to demonstrate research advances first-hand.
"The National Institutes of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that Americans save nearly $4 billion annually in dental bills because of advances in dental research and an increased emphasis on preventive oral health care," Fox said. "But the potential to save more can be even greater with more research."
The AADR has been a loyal Research!America member for nearly 20 years, having joined in our inaugural year of 1989. In addition to membership, the association is a partner in our Your Candidates- Your Health voter education initiative and has participated in other partnership efforts including national public opinion polling about oral health research issues. Fox believes our partnership and resources are useful to the AADR's own advocacy.
"Research!America has been extremely valuable to the AADR by putting these initiatives together and helping to place oral health research more prominently in the public's view," Fox said. "We look forward to continuing our partnership to raise public awareness about oral health and to communicate to Congress our research needs. "
Based on the public polling data from Research!America about the importance of health research funding, we are fully justified in making a clarion call for increased research funding."
Research!America members can download the entire July-August Research Advocate using their member log in. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org if you need your log-in information.