Archive for September, 2008

McCain, Obama Advisers Discuss Health Policy

Friday, September 19th, 2008

Khosla, Rovner, Hughes (L-R) Jay Khosla, representing John McCain; Julie Rovner, health policy correspondent for NPR; and Dora Hughes, MD, MPH, representing Barack Obama.

The Innovations and the Elections: Presidential Perspectives on Health candidates’ forum was held on September 18, 2008 at The George Washington University.

Featuring
Jay Khosla, Health Policy Adviser for John McCain
Dora Hughes, MD, MPH, Health Policy Adviser for Barack Obama

Moderated by
Julie Rovner, Health Policy Correspondent, National Public Radio

Watch the video from the event at the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Research!America was a sponsor of the event, which took place Thursday at The George Washington University in Washington.

Science Debate 2008 Conference

Friday, September 19th, 2008

Mark your calendar for the first-ever Science Debate conference, Innovation 2008: Renewing America Through Smarter Science & Technology Policy, on the beautiful campus of the University of Minnesota on October 20-21! Let’s explore what we’ve learned and what we, the Congress and the President need to do next to renew America’s promise as the world leader in science and innovation.

This event is cohosted by ScienceDebate2008.com, the U of M’s Center for Science, Technology & Public Policy at the Humphrey Institute, and the Bell Museum of Natural History. Representatives of the presidential campaigns and other policymakers are also being invited.

Keynotes
Nobel laureate Peter Agre
Science broadcaster Ira Flatow

Speakers and panelists
Nobel laureate Andrew Fire, Kei Koizumi, Lawrence Krauss, Chris Mooney, Michael Osterholm, Manil Suri, Susan Wood, Mary Woolley, and many others.

To register
Go to Innovation2008.com to register or learn more!

Your Candidates–Your Health 2008
Presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama have answered Science Debate 2008’s top 14 science questions facing America. But it’s important to know where your candidates for Congress stand on similar issues since they must work together to address the challenges facing the nation.

Your Candidates–Your Health 2008 has invited congressional candidates to declare their positions on important health and research issues. Visit www.YourCandidatesYourHealth.org to see your candidates’ responses and urge any who have not submitted answers to do so now.

Your Candidates–Your Health 2008 also features responses from John McCain and Barack Obama. Know where your candidates stand on health and research by visiting www.YourCandidatesYourHealth.org.

National Science Board Nominees Sent to the U.S. Senate

Friday, September 19th, 2008

From the National Science Foundation:

The names of seven distinguished scientists nominated by the President to serve on the National Science Board (NSB) were sent to the Senate for confirmation on September 16, 2008. Drawn from industry and universities, and representing a variety of science and engineering disciplines and geographic areas, these four new and three incumbent NSB members were selected for their preeminence in research, education or public service. When confirmed by the Senate, they will serve six-year terms to expire in May of 2014.

The NSB is an independent body of advisors to both the President and Congress on broad national policy issues related to science and engineering research and education; and an oversight body for the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Read about the nominees.

Malaria Report Offers Some Good News — Maybe

Friday, September 19th, 2008

Determining the scope of any infectious disease is difficult. But when the epidemiology challenge is in countries without sophisticated surveillance techniques, the margins of error in imputing prevalence are wider than the Amazon in flood season .

However, there does seem to be some good news today on that score. The World Health Organization says that the estimate for malaria prevalence worldwide is more than 100 million people lower than the previous year’s. Does that mean progress is being made or does it mean WHO disease-trackers and statisticians are just getting more accurate?

WHO attributes the reduction to actual progress in the wider use of long-lasting insecticidal nets and artemisinin-based combination therapy, plus a revival of support for indoor residual spraying of insecticide.

Time magazine has a balanced look at the issue, and you can download the WHO report itself.

Urge Your Candidates to Speak Out on Research

Friday, September 19th, 2008

In 46 days, America will choose our next President and determine the make-up of the 111th Congress. Make sure you know where your candidates stand on issues that will impact the health and economic well-being of the U.S. by visiting www.yourcandidatesyourhealth.org and urging your candidates to participate.

Presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama have shared their views health, science and research. Many congressional candidates also have responded to the Your Candidates-Your Health 2008 questionnaire.

Please join our Facebook group and help spread the word about Your Candidates-Your Health to your colleagues, members and fellow voters. With your involvement, we can make research a higher priority in the upcoming election, the next Administration and the next Congress.

Honorary Research!America Director on Presidential Priorities

Thursday, September 18th, 2008

C. Everett Koop, an honorary Research!America director, has answered this question:

What are the three most important things the next president can do to positively impact scientific research in the United States?

as part of DISCOVER’s Science Policy Project.

Koop talks about what he knows, writing,

Appoint the next surgeon general with an eye to scientific and medical prowess, rather than make it a political appointment.

Read the rest at DISCOVER’s Reality Base blog, and look for the November issue of DISCOVER magazine which will compile answers to the question from some of the top scientists and thinkers in our country.

Health Policy Journal Critiques Candidates’ Health Plans

Wednesday, September 17th, 2008

Yesterday, Health Affairs, a journal on policy in the health sphere, published in-depth critiques of John McCain and Barack Obama’s plans for restructuring health care. The articles explored the costs, coverage implications, possible health outcomes and suggestions for improvement of each candidate’s plan. Like in the candidates’ responses to Your Candidates-Your Health, a questionnaire on health issues developed by Research!America, McCain and Obama agree that the current state of health care needs to change.

The critique authors’ main criticism of Obama’s plan, which proposes greater federal regulation of insurance to expand insurance coverage, was the lack of control of health care spending. The authors pointed out that while more people would be covered under this plan, it mostly shifts costs to the federal budget without addressing the increases in these costs.

McCain’s plan raised concerns with the authors about the numbers of insured Americans because of a feature of the plan that replaces tax exclusions for employer-sponsored health insurance with a refundable tax credit, which would raise the price for this type of coverage. The McCain plan also focuses on moving families to the nongroup insurance, which was criticized for its effect on costs to individual families which would go to administrative costs rather than providing care.

–Allison Bland

Research!America Receives $1.4 Million In Expanded Support From Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Wednesday, September 17th, 2008

Funds Boost Paul G. Rogers Society’s Advocacy for More U.S. Global Health Research

WASHINGTON—September 17, 2008—Research!America has received $1.4 million in renewed support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for the Paul G. Rogers Society for Global Health Research.

This continued commitment from the Gates Foundation will help build additional leaders in global health research advocacy in the United States. These “citizen scientists” will amplify the growing call for increased investment in global health research. They will seek opportunities to make policymakers and the media aware of the need for sustained investment in global health research and of the value it brings here at home as well.

“Support from the Gates Foundation enables Ambassadors to continue meeting with policymakers and the media, reinforcing through their own experiences the importance of global health research to the US and to the world,” said The Honorable John Edward Porter, chair of the Society’s Advisory Council and Research!America board chair.

Continue reading the release.

Research!America’s Chair Leads Development of National Academies Report

Wednesday, September 17th, 2008

Advising Presidential Candidates on Filling Key Science & Technology Posts

Research!America’s chair, The Honorable John Edward Porter, chaired a National Academies committee that issued a new report today—Science and Technology for America’s Progress: Ensuring the Best Presidential Appointments in the New Administration.

The report, sent to presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama, provides guidance on filling key science appointments after the election. The report urges members of the scientific community to serve in these positions and emphasizes the importance of research in solving many of our nation’s challenges, including economic ones.

The report is the latest in a series issued by the Academies on the presidential appointment process, each delivered during a presidential election year. Mr. Porter also chaired the committee’s 2004 report. Read the National Academies’ news release about the report.

Kaiser Family Foundation: Hollywood & Health: Health Content in Popular TV

Tuesday, September 16th, 2008

A new report from the Kaiser Family Foundation finds health content placed in a Grey’s Anatomy episode quadrupled awareness among TV audience.

While the American public obtains content in a multimedia environment ranging from so called old media like newspapers to new media like blogs and online social networks, television maintains the ability to reach millions of people with relative ease. Popular primetime television’s primary purpose is to entertain the audience, but it also has the ability to convey messages about serious issues. To understand television’s ability to inform the public and to examine the health content on entertainment shows, the Kaiser Family Foundation released two studies.

In order to document how well viewers learn health information from entertainment television, the Foundation worked with writers at Grey’s Anatomy to embed a health message in an episode, and then surveyed viewers on the topic before and after the episode aired. The study included three national random-digit-dial telephone surveys of regular viewers of the show, conducted one week before, one week after, and – to test retention of the information – six weeks after the target episode aired.

The Foundation and the USC Annenberg Norman Lear Center’s Hollywood, Health & Society examined three seasons (2004-2006) of top-ten-rated prime time scripted shows to measure the prevalence of health content on entertainment shows and to categorize the type of health content on prime time television.

Watch a webcast of the briefing today.

Read the USA Today article about the event.

NYT: Presidential Candidates’ Positions on Science Issues

Tuesday, September 16th, 2008

Today’s New York Times includes an article about the presidential candidates responding to ScienceDebate2008.

Both presidential candidates have now issued answers to a series of questions about science policy, Senator Barack Obama having done so in late August and Senator John McCain on Monday.

Their responses show clear areas of agreement on such apple-pie issues as ocean health, as well as sharp contrasts, as when Mr. Obama stresses the role of government and Mr. McCain that of business in addressing some of the nation’s main challenges.

Read the entire article here, and visit ScienceDebate2008.com for the candidates’ complete answers.

Also, don’t forget to check out our voter education initiative, Your Candidates-Your Health, to see the presidential candidates’ answers to questions about health, research, science and its funding. We also have asked all candidates for Congress to weigh in, and the site includes public opinion on the same questions.

AUCD Awards Deadline Extended

Tuesday, September 16th, 2008

The Association of University Centers on Disabilities has extended its deadline for awards nominations.

Commitment, dedication, persistence, leadership, motivation, and empowerment — these words only begin to describe the individuals, organizations, and programs that have made the AUCD network a life-changing force in the field of developmental disabilities. At AUCD’s 2008 Annual Meeting, we will again have the honor of recognizing the excellence of those who make a difference during the Awards Ceremony.

Learn about the award categories and make a nomination here.

Celebrate Get Ready Day

Tuesday, September 16th, 2008

Today is Get Ready Day, and the American Public Health Association urges you to spread the preparedness message. September is also Preparedness Month. (APHA is a Research!America member.)

How prepared are you and your community for an emergency or disaster? According to a 2007 poll from APHA, most Americans are not prepared for a public health crisis.

Get Ready Day, Tuesday, Sept. 16, is raising awareness about community preparedness. No matter where you live, there is always a possibility of a public health emergency, from earthquakes and hurricanes to infectious disease or terrorism.

So what can you do? First, assess how prepared you and your family are: Do you have an emergency plan? A three-day supply of food and water? Where would your family meet during a disaster if they could not go home? How would you leave town if you had to evacuate? Check out these planning tips and information on emergency stockpiling for help in getting yourself and your family prepared.

Find out more here.

McCain’s Your Candidates Response Mentioned in Nature Blog

Monday, September 15th, 2008

The Great Beyond, the Nature blog that “rounds up science news from around the world” has a post today looking at presidential candidate John McCain’s positions on science, particularly his recent response to the 14 questions posed by ScienceDebate2008.com. The post includes a reference to McCain’s response to our Your Candidates-Your Health survey, to which candidate Barack Obama has also responded.

For instance his answer on stem cells is essentially identical to the one he gave Research!America last year. It notes that he supports federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research — suggesting he would overturn President Bush’s ban on funding for such work on cell lines derived after August 2001. But then McCain goes on to say: “I believe clear lines should be drawn that reflect a refusal to sacrifice moral values and ethical principles for the sake of scientific progress. Moreover, I believe that recent scientific breakthroughs raise the hope that one day this debate will be rendered academic.” By selecting pro-lifer Sarah Palin as his running mate, McCain has upped the speculation on what he really might do regarding stem-cell research if elected.

Lasker Winners Announced

Monday, September 15th, 2008

The recipients of the 2008 Albert Lasker Medical Research Awards were announced this weekend in New York.

The Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research honors Victor R. Ambros, 54, of the University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, David C. Baulcombe, 56, of the University of Cambridge, and Gary B. Ruvkun, 56, of Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston and Harvard Medical School, who discovered tiny RNAs that regulate gene function.

The Lasker-DeBakey Award for Clinical Medical Research honors Akira Endo, 74, of Biopharm Research Laboratories, Inc., Tokyo, who discovered the first statin.

The Lasker-Koshland Award for Special Achievement in Medical Science, awarded biennially, honors Stanley Falkow, 74, of the Stanford University School of Medicine, for his many contributions to our knowledge of disease-causing microbes.

The Awards will be presented at a luncheon ceremony on Friday, September 26, at the Pierre Hotel in New York City. The Honorable Michael Bloomberg, Mayor of the City of New York, will be the keynote speaker.

First presented in 1946, the Lasker Awards are the nation’s most distinguished honor for outstanding basic and clinical medical research discoveries and for lifetime contributions to medical science.

Read more about the awards and award winners at www.laskerfoundation.org and read coverage the award announcement received in The New York Times and San Francisco Chronicle.

The Albert & Mary Lasker Foundation is a Research!America member.

ScienceDebate2008: McCain, Obama Weigh in on Science

Monday, September 15th, 2008

Both McCain and Obama have responded to the “14 top science questions facing America” posed by ScienceDebate2008.com.

From the press release:

“I have a broad and cohesive vision for the future of American innovation,” said Senator McCain. “My policies will provide broad pools of capital, low taxes and incentives for research in America, a commitment to a skilled and educated workforce, and a dedication to opening markets around the globe.”

“Ensuring that the U.S. continues to lead the world in science and technology will be a central priority for my administration,” said Senator Obama. “Our talent for innovation is still the envy of the world, but we face unprecedented challenges that demand new approaches.”

After you look at the candidates’ responses to ScienceDebate2008’s questionnaire, be sure to visit www.yourcandidatesyourhealth.org to find out where McCain and Obama stand on the broader issues of medical research, health funding, American competitiveness and other related issues.

NIH Supports Research Careers by Repaying Student Loan Debt

Monday, September 15th, 2008

NIH is now accepting applications for its extramural Loan Repayment Programs, and is letting applicants know through it awareness-raising campaign slogan that “You do the research. NIH will repay your student loans.”

Read the rest of the release here and visit www.lrp.nih.gov for more details and to apply.

NIH awards $4.6M to expand global health network

Friday, September 12th, 2008

The Fogarty International Center, part of the National Institutes of Health, today announced it will award $4.6 million over three years to expand its network of global health education programs to include 12 additional campuses in the United States, China and Mexico. The Framework Programs for Global Health aim to raise awareness of global health within the academic community and support development of new curricula and degree programs that cut across departments and schools to create a pipeline for the next generation of global health researchers.

“As the world becomes increasingly interconnected, there is a compelling need for novel, multidimensional approaches to global health research,” said NIH Director Elias A. Zerhouni, MD. “By removing the existing academic silos and working across disciplines, we can better leverage our knowledge and skills to tackle difficult global health challenges and save lives around the world.”

“Campuses have seen a dramatic surge of interest in global health,” said Fogarty Director Roger I. Glass, MD, PhD. “These Framework awards have enormous impact, despite their modest size. They provide the catalyst to transform global health programs, leveraging and enhancing existing resources, fostering innovative research collaborations and creating new foreign research training opportunities.”

Read more.

On The Hill: Congressional Biomedical Research Caucus

Wednesday, September 10th, 2008

Max Wicha, MD, of the University of Michigan, spoke today at the Congressional Biomedical Research Caucus about a new paradigm for cancer research that looks at cancer stem cells. Using the example of breast cancer, Dr. Wicha explained how targeting cancer stem cells in clinical trials and cancer treatment can directly impact survival rates of cancers.

How is a cancer stem cell different from the stem cells we hear about in the media? According to Dr. Wicha, the embryonic stem cells that provide so much promise for curing regenerative diseases are different from adult stem cells, which travel to other organs during development and do not differentiate beyond that organ. In the past, it was thought that any cell in an organ could mutate and become cancerous. Not so, said Dr. Wicha. Cancer stem cells originate in early progenitors of adult stem cells and drive the growth and spread of cancer. Destroying cells with chemotherapy or radiation treatment is like “leaving the root on a plant,” Dr. Wicha said. Effective cancer therapy needs to target cancer stem cells.

The Honorable Rush Holt (NJ), co-chair of the Biomedical Research Caucus, began the question and answer session speaking in support of funding medical research, saying, “There is a critical role for federal support here. Lobby for NSF, NASA and DOE so we have the methodology, the instrumentation and the scientists to do the research at NIH. We need more funding for basic science.”

Science Progress: Six Easy Pieces

Tuesday, September 9th, 2008

Arthur L. Caplan, PhD, has a post on Science Progress, Six Easy Pieces, giving advice to the presidential candidates on science and technology policy.

Americans know which side their bread is buttered on, and that side is science and technology. They can see on television that science and technology are fueling the economies of Europe and Asia. Science and technology will create the good jobs in the United States and will maintain the country’s preeminence in the 21st century. That is why the fact that our kids are falling behind the rest of the world in science literacy is viewed with alarm and a fair degree of nervous joking—Americans get the importance of science and technology.

[H]ere are six things: three in health and three in science and technology that the next administration ought to argue for vigorously and fund generously during its first term.