A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: A New Year, New Momentum for Research

Dear Research Advocate,

As we approach the New Year, a quick summary and word of thanks is in order.  Despite the unprecedented fiscal environment and an extraordinarily polarized Congress, research fared relatively well over the past year. NIH, CDC, NSF, and FDA all received budget increases in 2011, while AHRQ was cut slightly. The advocacy community has played a critical role in conveying to the public and policymakers that research should be a higher priority in America. Thank you for all your efforts over the past year. Read our year end press release with a statement from Research!America’s Chair, The Honorable John Porter.

In 2012, we face the fallout of the Supercommittee, which will bring devastating 8% across-the-board cuts beginning in January 2013 unless Congress reverses course. Everything that Congress does in 2012 will be with an eye on the November election. The presidential election is already in full swing with the Iowa Caucuses right around the corner and the Congressional races gearing up.

Medical progress – or the lack thereof – has implications for every American. As the elections approach, we must work together to ensure that research is an issue that every candidate has addressed. Our voter education initiative, Your Candidates–Your Health has attracted the attention of leading presidential candidates and media including The Hill and The New York Times, as well as over 100 print and online media hits for the press release covering the initiative and relevant poll data.  But we need advocates like you to help sustain the momentum. Attend a town hall meeting, write an op-ed or letter to the editor, and work with the media to make sure that candidates are talking about research. As I’ve said before and will again — we can’t expect elected officials who never talk about research as a national priority to suddenly decide to do so after they have taken office. We have to convince them now of the winning nature of championing research. Winning for the country, and a way to help them win election!

With the Iowa Caucuses coming up on January 3, the timing was good for our letter to the editor published last week in the Des Moines Register, commenting on Grinell President Raynard Kington’s op-ed and calling for the presidential candidates to talk about medical research. If you reside in the states with an early primary –  New Hampshire, Florida, or South Carolina – please get in touch. We will work together to get an op-ed placed in your state.

And don’t think only of those states. Follow the lead of Research!America Board member and Nobel Laureate Dr. Carol Greider who had an excellent op-ed published in the Baltimore Sun. In the article, Dr. Greider explains that “Our nation’s elected leaders are not championing science — or even talking about it, during presidential debates or on the floor of the Congress — even as other nations are stepping up their determination to match and exceed the U.S. in discovery. It takes years to realize the multiple benefits of science; without adequate, sustained funding for research, the careers of many bright, young scientists may come to a screeching halt.” This is the right message to send to the public and policymakers – if we fail to support research now we lose out on a better future for our nation.

A terrific op-ed by Dr. Huda Akil, neuroscientist at the University of Michigan and former President of the Society for Neuroscience, was recently published in The Washington Times. Under the title, “An Incomparable Nation,” Dr. Akil writes, “… there is a more fundamental reason, I believe, to support science in this country and to keep on doing so even during tough times. A reason that the world seems to recognize but we in America seem to be forgetting: Discovery is at the heart of what America is.” Research is part of America’s DNA, but we must work every day to ensure that our elected leaders don’t take this for granted.

Please help us fulfill our mission to make research for health a higher national priority.  For patients and their families, for our nation’s economic strength in the 21st century, for researchers and research institutions across the country…it has never been more important.  Donate now.

Sincerely,

Mary Woolley

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