Posts Tagged ‘NIH’

Research!America Chair’s Statement on Protecting Research Funding in Budget Negotiations

Thursday, April 19th, 2012

A statement from Research!America’s chair, The Honorable John Edward Porter — Budget Negotiations Heighten Urgency to Protect Research Funding in Tight Fiscal Environment:

The rancorous budget debates between the administration and Congress obscure the fact that our nation’s leadership in science and innovation is tenuous at best if spending for research is cut drastically. The latest proposals in the House and Senate would put funding for medical research at risk, even though such research drives new businesses, new jobs and new treatments and cures for patients now and in the future. Stagnant funding for the National Institutes of Health has led to historic lows in the number of grants awarded to researchers, which will inevitably slow the pace of scientific discovery and development of new therapies and products. As health care costs continue to rise, we must be realistic about the tools we have at our disposal to bend the cost curve. Research to find cures for diseases like Alzheimer’s is our best hope of preventing catastrophic growth in Medicare spending. Furthermore, the budgetary situation on Capitol Hill throws into doubt our elected leaders’ commitment to global leadership in research and development, and if our leadership in that arena falters, so will our economic competitiveness overall. Many Americans are concerned about our ability to maintain the nation’s competitive edge. Research!America polling shows a majority of Americans (58%) are skeptical that the U.S. will be a world leader in science and technology by the year 2020. We urge lawmakers to keep in mind that some federal investments, like investments in medical research, will achieve goals they have set for our nation — a lower deficit, a thriving economy and a healthier population.

Events at NIH to Commemorate First NIH Minority Health Promotion Day

Friday, April 13th, 2012

April is National Minority Health Month, and the National Institutes of Health is lending its name to the cause.

On Thursday, NIH and the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities will host the first NIH Minority Health Promotion Day. The day-long event will be held at the NIH Clinical Center on the NIH campus in Bethesda, MD.

Starting at 10 a.m., the South Lobby of the Clinical Center will showcase posters and other resources that explain various projects that are being undertaken to improve minority health.

Then, at 1 p.m., a roundtable discussion will examine the role that social determinants play in health. Brian Smedley, PhD, of the Health Policy Institute at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, will serve as moderator; panelists include Peter J. Ashley, DrPH, of the Department of Housing and Urban Development; Thomas E. Feucht, PhD, of the Department of Justice; and Shawn Malarcher of the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Though the discussion coincides with NIH Minority Health Promotion Day, it is also part of a monthly lecture series at NIH titled the Health Disparities Seminar Series.

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: A Way to Voice Your Support of Research as a Priority

Thursday, April 12th, 2012

Dear Research Advocate,

I imagine you’ve heard of the wide-ranging TED talks? This week, I am taking part in TEDMED 2012 – a gathering of advocates and other stakeholders in the health and medical research community exploring and attempting to prioritize key health challenges in America and across the globe. Where would you rank R&D in the top 50 great challenges for health? Vote here to voice your support of research as a priority. Do this today while the TEDMED polls are still open!

As I’ve noted in previous letters, in January of next year, a 7%-to-10% across-the-board federal budget cut is scheduled to take effect, chopping billions out of the budgets for NIH, CDC, FDA, AHRQ and NSF. Known as “sequestration,” it is a budget mechanism enacted in the wake of the failure of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (the supercommittee). Dr. Gordon Tomaselli, president of the American Heart Association, writes that the NIH should be exempted from these cuts in Science Progress – just imagine what a 7-10% decrease would do. The sequester would be nothing short of disastrous for students, scientists and patients alike. And of vital importance, the sequester would hobble one of the most important driving forces of the U.S. economy. The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) has released a series of fact sheets that demonstrate just how important NIH funding is for states. Visit this link and see how NIH research is benefiting your state.

It is important to call out the economic benefits of research to your state. At our April 9 event, “Global Health R&D in New York: Fueling Innovation and Saving Lives,” we were honored to be joined by Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY). The Congresswoman spoke about the importance of global health R&D to New York’s economy and the vital role that federal support plays in making these innovations possible. She also emphasized that while global health R&D has made significant progress in the last decade, there is still much more to be done.  For media coverage, state polling and a link to the full video of the event, click here.

Finally, I want to salute the life and accomplishments of a great American. Every year during our annual Advocacy Awards dinner, we celebrate and thank those who have made a difference in health research advocacy. I was greatly saddened by the passing last weekend of renowned journalist Mike Wallace, a former winner of a Research!America Advocacy Award, the Rosenfeld Award for Impact on Public Opinion.  Wallace was recognized for his commitment to de-stigmatizing mental illness and for calling for more research to address it. If you know of an outstanding individual or organization making a marked contribution in advocacy for research, please take the time to nominate them. Submissions are due by Friday, May 25, 2012.

Sincerely,

Mary Woolley

New York Global Health Community Comes Together to Discuss Innovative Partnerships in R&D

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

Laurie Garrett moderated a panel including Mel Spigelman, MD, Pol Vanderbroucke, MD, Rachel Cohen, Margaret McGlynn and Jack DeHovitz, MD, MPH

Research!America, in partnership with the AIDS Vaccine Advocacy Coalition (AVAC), Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative North America (DNDi), Global Alliance for TB Drug Development (TB Alliance),  International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI), SUNY Downstate Medical Center and Treatment Action Group (TAG), hosted a forum, Global Health Research and Development in New York: Fueling Innovation and Saving Lives, on Monday, April 9 at the New York Academy of Sciences.

Mary Woolley, president and CEO of Research!America, opened the forum by acknowledging the remarkable progress made in the growing field of global health research in New York in the past decade.  She also released the results of a new state poll commissioned by Research!America that shows that 64% of New Yorkers are concerned about global health, and 63% believe that global health research is important to New York’s economy.

Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY-18) then took the stage and explained the significance of global health research and development (R&D) as an economic driver that creates jobs for New Yorkers. She stated that “despite the critical importance and significant economic impact of these programs, funding for global health is threatened again this year” in regard to the proposed fiscal year 2013 budget, and pledged to continue fighting for “robust funding for all our global health programs, including critical research and development.”

The Honorable Nita Lowey (D-NY-18) and Mary Woolley, president and CEO, Research!America, made opening remarks about the importance of global health research in New York

Renowned global health commentator Laurie Garrett, senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations, moderated a discussion between panelists Rachel Cohen, regional executive director, DNDi North America; Jack DeHovitz, MD, MPH, distinguished service professor and director, SUNY Downstate AIDS International Training and Research Program; Margaret McGlynn, president and CEO, IAVI; Mel Spigelman, MD, president and CEO, TB Alliance; and Pol Vandenbroucke, MD, vice president of development, emerging markets, Pfizer.

In her opening remarks, Garrett emphasized the importance of the U.S. commitment to global health funding, especially after the 2008 financial crisis, when “the United States stepped up to the plate” after the community saw “a huge number of players disappear” from the field. She stated that “if we cannot protect the U.S. commitment to global heath spending, every single program in global health is going to have to chop, chop, chop its budget.”

Panelists then discussed how innovative partnerships among public, private and academic sectors are transforming the way that research is conducted and yielding promising developments for the future of global health. Spigelman highlighted that TB Alliance is “on the verge” of technological breakthroughs, which require an increased commitment to research due to the costly final stages of testing and clinical trials. Partnerships in global health R&D are cost-effective, he argued, citing TB Alliance’s NC-002 clinical trial conducted in partnership with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Bayer and Novartis.  This trial has the potential to produce a drug regimen that could reduce the TB treatment to 4 months, potentially saving as much as 90% of current costs.

Vandenbroucke emphasized that the private sector has unique resources and capabilities to contribute to partnerships that are essential for the development of health technologies. He stated that cuts to the federal budget would affect the work of the pharmaceutical industry “in the long term, as less funds are available to do the basic groundwork to study diseases” that Pfizer then applies during its advanced drug development process.

Cohen expressed concern over the fact that neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) received the single largest percentage funding cut of the global health programs in the President’s FY13 budget request and the impact this would have on DNDi’s work. She noted that there is currently no federal funding available for late-stage product development for NTDs, and the current budget FY13 request “totally eviscerates the possibility of future investments, at least for the coming 2 years,” if passed, which threatens the continued progress of DNDi’s efforts.

McGlynn spoke about the evolution of IAVI from an advocacy organization to a product development partnership, with the support of Mayor Bloomberg and New York City.  IAVI’s Vaccine Design and Development Laboratory, established in Brooklyn in 2006, plays a pivotal role in the Mayor’s New York City Bioscience Initiative and is a key component of IAVI’s global AIDS vaccine R&D network. McGlynn stressed that the scientific expertise of New York City’s “globally educated and raised” workforce has been essential to IAVI’s work, and to the growth of global health R&D in the area.

DeHovitz reinforced that multisectoral collaborations have yielded major advancements in the field of HIV/AIDS.  He cited the federal contribution to international HIV/AIDS through the work of the Fogarty Center of the National Institutes of Health, which funds advanced research training in public health at five New York City universities. He also spoke of “the huge upsurge of interest among our health care students in global health,” stating that 45% of medical school entrants are interested in global health and 30% of medical school graduates have had a global health experience in school. “They’re committed, they’re interested and they want to help,” he said, noting the potential impact of this group to the future of global health.

New York, home to seven of the top 50 U.S. research universities, the largest bioscience workforce and second-largest life sciences workforce of any U.S. city, and three global health product development partnerships (PDPs), is clearly a world leader in global health R&D, and this growing industry is a promising economic engine for the state. There was a general consensus in the room that the community needs to work together to ensure that global health R&D remains a priority.

Great progress has been made in the development of new technologies to fight TB, HIV/AIDS and NTDs, and increased funding is needed to sustain this momentum and build upon previous successes.  Spigelman noted that the current “slash and burn” Congress could have a devastating effect on global health efforts, and argued that the U.S. will get “the most bang for that buck” by investing in global health technologies that will reduce the foreign aid budget in the long term.  Woolley concluded the forum with a call to action, asking the global health community to share with others, including their members of Congress, the importance of the work that they do.

A video of the event is available here.  For more information on global health R&D in New York, check out the New York edition of Research!America’s economic impact state fact sheet and public opinion poll series.

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: Congress is On Recess, Talking to Constituents – Including You?

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

Dear Research Advocate,

It’s easy to guess what Members of Congress are hearing about while they are back home this week and next: the economy, the economy and the economy. It is possible too they are hearing about the budget battles, since media have fueled the debate between the Ryan budget and the president’s budget. Neither of these proposals will actually become law in their current form, but they have significant life as surrogates for the election-year debate on the proper role of government in our society. One feature of the Ryan budget is to lower the ceiling on appropriations negotiations, placing NIH and other agency funding at even greater risk than at present. Layer on top of that the threat of sequestration cuts, which could lop 7% to 9% off the NIH budget, and we have a recipe for disaster. Many pundits and some Members of Congress are predicting that sequestration will not happen, but that’s by no means assured. Although the figures cited are not firm right now, sequestration could reduce the number of new NIH grants by as much as 2,300, while also necessitating deep cuts to existing grants. If stakeholders in research cannot convince current and prospective Members of the House and Senate that federal investment in innovation is an essential determinant of our nation’s future prosperity and an American value that must not be undercut, we will have to prepare for devastating setbacks. Please seek out your Member of Congress during this recess; explain what’s at risk and ask for support.

In March, both the House and the Senate held hearings on the budgets for NIH, NSF, FDA and CDC, and deliberations continue this month. Members of Congress have generally expressed support for research and an understanding of its importance to our nation, but their enthusiasm is often tempered by the pressures of a tight fiscal environment. More voices speaking up this month from the research stakeholder community will help convert tentative support to leadership of our issue. If you haven’t already, it is critical to submit written testimony on behalf of health research. Instructions for submissions are available here, and the deadline for submission is April 27. And don’t stop with that submission! It is essential for more advocates to speak up on several issues of immediate concern and to do so via social media, as well as more conventional outreach. For example, last week Research!America joined others in a Twitter campaign to urge timely passage of the Prescription Drug User Fee Act (PDUFA) in order to protect FDA resources needed to ensure timely review and approval of new medicines.

Election-year politics are on the mind of every Member of Congress. Congressional primaries are starting to take place, in addition to the remaining presidential primaries. It is incumbent on all who care about research to urge candidates to declare their views on our issue. Be sure to take a moment to reach out to candidates via Your Candidates-Your Health; in addition, pen a letter to the editor of your local newspaper, or send in an op-ed. Alternatively, consider scheduling an interview with a local radio station or television program. We can flesh out these ideas with you; simply send me a return response email and we’ll get to work.

Speaking of candidates, ScienceDebate.org is urging a presidential debate on science. In a recent article in the Huffington Post, Shawn Otto, founder of ScienceDebate, writes about the importance of candidates engaging on these issues at a time when science plays a role in virtually all aspects of public policymaking. The organization has made excellent use of recent poll data from Research!America to tease out important demographic information on attitudes toward science as a national issue. They also note that 85% of likely voters agree that the candidates should engage in a debate on science. Add your voice and sign on to the petition calling for a presidential science debate.

In a previous letter, I mentioned our upcoming event, Fueling Innovation and Saving Lives, being held on Monday in New York City. For those who cannot attend in person, we will be webcasting the event which will feature Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) and New York-based leaders in global health R&D.

Sincerely,

Mary Woolley

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: Muddy Waters for Health Research Funding

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

Dear Research Advocate,

The Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education and Related Agencies (Labor-H) Appropriations subcommittee held a hearing Wednesday on NIH funding for FY13. Dr. Francis Collins testified along with several institute directors on opportunities and challenges facing NIH. The good news; both the chairman and the ranking member (Sen. Tom Harkin [D-IA] and Sen. Richard Shelby [R-AL]) of the subcommittee expressed support for increasing the NIH budget. The bad news: It was also emphasized that budget constraints may well prevent such an increase. Thankfully, the subcommittee expressed strong concern over the impact of sequestration, which would impose an across-the-board cut of between 7% and 9% on NIH, CDC, AHRQ and the other health research agencies. The negative impact of sequestration on defense spending has received a great deal of attention on the Hill, but its impact on medical research and other spending priorities has not received the attention it deserves.

The House also held a hearing this week that examined NIH funding as part of a broad look at the agencies and programs under the jurisdiction of the House Labor-H Appropriations subcommittee. Several Research!America members provided excellent testimony at that hearing: the American Association for Dental Research; the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology; the Children’s Hospital Association; Columbia University Medical Center; FasterCures; the McLaughlin Research Institute; and the National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research. Their testimony was very timely, as the House is expected to consider legislation today that would cut the federal budget in FY13 by $19 billion more than the cuts enacted as part of last year’s Budget Control Act. It appears that all of these additional cuts would be directed toward non-defense discretionary spending, which would place health research funding at even greater risk.

What I gleaned from these hearings is that while there are certainly Members of Congress who strongly support NIH, increased funding for the institutes and other health research agencies is perceived more as wishful thinking than as a strategic imperative. We must convince policy makers that because of, not despite, the current budget environment, it would be counterproductive to let medical research funding stagnate. That’s because medical research funding leads to job and business creation, which in turn increases federal revenues that are needed to drive down the deficit. Further, medical research is our best weapon against the staggering federal health care costs associated with Alzheimer’s disease and other chronic illnesses. Finally, the future of our economy depends on our ability to compete globally, and medical innovation is particularly fertile soil for new products with global market reach.

We can’t afford complacency when American lives and the American dream hang in the balance. Call, write or visit your Member of Congress. Do the same for new candidates for federal office. Write an op-ed or letter to the editor. Start a Facebook campaign. Use Twitter to get the message out. Medical innovation is imperiled, and we cannot wish the problem away. We need to act.

Dedicated graduate students from MIT, with assistance from students at Johns Hopkins University, are doing their part. They visited Capitol Hill on Tuesday to share a petition about the importance of federal research funding. The Stand With Science initiative, started at MIT, gathered more than 10,000 signatures, which were delivered to the Massachusetts delegation and other key congressional leaders. Research!America supported the effort and was pleased to see media coverage of the event.

Do you know how a sequester (a 7% to 9% across-the-board budget cut) would affect NIH? United for Medical Research has released a report on the impact of cuts to NIH, focusing on the potential impact of sequestration. In addition, see their recent update on state job creation from NIH funding in 2011. As you well know, job creation is a critical challenge facing our nation – be sure to use these numbers in your outreach and advocacy efforts.

Speaking of health and job creation, global health R&D is a critical component of our nation’s biosciences sector, fueling job creation and combating diseases that take lives and cross borders. To learn more, join Research!America in New York City on Monday, April 9, at the New York Academy of Sciences for our forum, Global Health Research and Development in New York: Fueling Innovation and Saving Lives. Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY), influential global health commentator Laurie Garrett and renowned researchers and industry leaders will discuss the multifaceted benefits of global health R&D as a local economic driver and a weapon against insidious diseases that, directly or indirectly, affect us all. To register and learn more, click here.

Finally, last week I shared lessons learned from our March 14th National Health Research Forum.  Click here to view video highlights from the event. Put March 13, 2013, on your calendar and join us at next year’s events

Sincerely,

Mary Woolley

What Innovations (Even Medical Ones) Would Come From an Apple R&D Lab?

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

Apple is the most valuable company on the planet; its market cap of nearly $500 billion is nearly unfathomable. There’s even a Tumblr feed that calculates things that are worth less than Apple: the construction of the interstate highway system, the global coffee industry and the National Football League, which as a whole is a tenth the size of Apple. Helpful, but still unfathomable.

Most recently, The New Yorker tried to put Apple’s worth in perspective. With its cash on hand, Nicholas Thompson writes, Apple could “buy Facebook, double the GDP of Bangladesh or more than triple the budget of the [National Institutes of Health].”

That’s an apt segue for both Thompson’s article and for the issues we care about. Apple will voluntarily triple NIH’s budget around the same time the NIH will begin manufacturing iPads — i.e., never. But Thompson goes on to say that investing more in its own R&D, specifically basic research that may or may not be in line with current company goals, could reward the company on its bottom line and in the goodwill the public has for it.

“Apple would get a lot of this research, and perhaps find new markets to conquer. But there’s also a branding benefit,” Thompson writes. “Apple is a very cool company, which is integral to its success. But, as [fellow New Yorker writer] John Cassidy argued recently, this won’t always be the case.”

What then? Thompson continues: When Apple is just another company, will the public be less willing to tolerate Apple’s ruthlessness, its continual litigation against rivals and complaints about antitrust activity? Basic research could help soften the blow.

Apple need look no further than another San Francisco suburb: Palo Alto, 12 miles southeast of Apple’s home in Cupertino. There, we’ll find PARC — Palo Alto Research Center, Xerox’s R&D unit. PARC lists among its accomplishments the personal workstation (1973), Ethernet (1973) and the web’s first livestreamed audio/video (1993).

Thompson also points to Bell Labs as a model that Apple could follow. Now owned by Alcatel-Lucent, Bell Labs has a particularly distinguished roll call of innovation: the development of systems engineering (1925), the first long-distance TV transmission (1927), the first binary digital computer (1939), the introduction of long-distance computing (1940), the first cellular communications (1947), the transistor (1947), the laser (1958), fiber optics (1977) and the first transmission to reach 1 gigabyte per second (1984).

Today, two of the biggest companies in the world could not exist without the federal R&D funding that laid the groundwork for computers and, ultimately, the Internet: Microsoft and Google. Both companies have reinvested a portion of their earnings back into R&D; Bill Gates has reinvested his wealth into improving global health. Though still early-stage, Google has invested heavily in driverless cars. Both investments have or could save countless lives. And as a side benefit, they’ve also given positive PR to their respective behemoth companies, just as Bell Labs did for Bell and PARC did for Xerox.

The Bell and PARC inventions were decades ahead of their time; now, each is ubiquitous. Think about life without computers, the Internet, satellite television or those toys we tease our pets with.

Tying it back to Research!America’s focus, think about the state of health care delivery without computers, the Internet, remote connectivity or those lasers we use for myriad types of procedures.

If it really wanted to, what could Apple produce tomorrow that, in 20 years, would be as familiar to us as a 3G connection on your phone (to say nothing of 4G)? R&D, whether in the public or private sector, is critical for our country. That’s a point we make daily, and a Jobs-Cook Lab would be a welcome addition to the innovation industry in the U.S.

“Apple doesn’t have an obligation to build stuff, show it off to overcaffeinated 24-year-old geniuses and then get stamped on,” Thompson writes. “But technology advances most when basic research is done and ideas are shared. Apple could do a lot for the world, and a lot for itself, if it took some of that cash that’s sitting abroad and started telling chemists, physicists and engineers to come to Cupertino and just dream.”

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: Budget battles renewed as appropriations season heats up

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

Dear Research Advocate,

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), chairman of the House Budget Committee, released his budget plan Tuesday, outlining dramatic federal spending reductions over a 10-year period — over and above those agreed to during last year’s budget negotiations. The plan does not address science or research spending directly, but neither does it exempt research from cuts. In other words, science is not at the top level of public priority despite the fact that it is essential to our economic growth and well-being. The Ryan budget document states that the government should continue to fund basic research but raises concerns about government funding of applied and commercial R&D projects; in addition, it calls for ending government programs that “allow government to play venture capitalist with taxpayers’ money.” In a blog post, the White House Office of Management and Budget wrote about the impact the Ryan budget could have on research. While this budget may pass the House, it is unlikely to pass the Senate and be signed into law. That doesn’t mean it won’t have significant influence and may be adopted in part. We will stay closely tuned to the budget conversation and keep you apprised of the latest developments.

Also Tuesday, echoes of the Ryan budget’s concern regarding the government’s role in basic vs. other research support were heard at the House appropriations subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies, chaired by Rep. Dennis Rehberg (R-MT), hearing on NIH. Dr. Francis Collins and Dr. Thomas Insel (acting NCATS director as well as director of NIMH) represented the NIH (a full witness list and testimony can be found here). Discussion around NCATS was rigorous, with some members and witnesses expressing outright opposition and others suggesting other ways the funds could be used. The Members of Congress in attendance also raised questions about funding for the NIH IDeA program, the National Children’s Study, and the Clinical and Translational Science Award program. In response to Member concerns about the amount of funding for basic vs. non-basic and extramural vs. intramural research, Dr. Collins responded that the ratio for both has remained relatively steady over time. For more coverage of the hearing, see this news article from Nature.

Translational research was one of several timely issues addressed by panelists last week at Research!America’s National Health Research Forum. The Forum featured research leaders from academia, patient groups and industry along with agency heads (NIH, NSF, AHRQ, CDC and FDA). As our new public polling has shown, voters are increasingly concerned about the U.S. losing its global preeminence in science and health care. The theme — “From World Class to Second Class?” — addressed U.S. competiveness in science, research and innovation. As advocates, we must all work to convey the IMPORTANCE of not taking research for granted, by speaking out to policy makers, candidates and voters alike. To date, we’ve seen 13 news articles covering our forum. You can find links to them here. You can also view our top-line comments and takeaways from the forum discussion here.

Last Thursday, just in time to weigh in before the Illinois primary, the Chicago Tribune published an article by Research!America board member Dr. Mary Hendrix, the president and scientific director of Children’s Memorial Research Center at Northwestern University. She points out that federal funding for medical research is at great risk despite the major benefits that these investments bring to communities and institutions across the country. Unfortunately, our elected officials and political candidates have barely addressed these issues, and it is up to us to get them talking about research. Please take a moment now to send a note to the presidential candidates to remind them to complete our Your Candidates–Your Health questionnaire.

Sens. Bob Casey (D-PA) and Richard Burr (R-NC) are circulating a Dear Colleague letter in the Senate in support of NIH funding. Contact your senators TODAY and ask them to sign-on to the Casey-Burr letter. The deadline for senators to sign on is Monday.

Sincerely,

Mary Woolley

NIH Seeks Public Comment: Defining Unmet Needs for Clinical Translation of Cell-Based Therapies

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

The National Institutes of Health — specifically the NIH Common Fund’s NIH Center for Regenerative Medicine — has an open request for information concerning impediments to stem cell- and progenitor cell-based technologies.

More specifically, from the call itself: “The Common Fund’s NIH Center for Regenerative Medicine (NIH CRM) seeks comments on persistent unmet needs that currently impede technical and scientific progress in translating advances in stem-and progenitor cell-based technologies to the clinic, and where NIH investment and/or coordination can help in overcoming these impediments.”

The RFI offers two ways to add your feedback. First, dash off an email with the notice number, the requested information (a list of which appears in the link above) and your comments to nihcrm@mail.nih.gov. Alternatively, visit the CRM’s dedicated website and fill in the proper fields; this method allows you to see and comment on other submitted comments — but do note that emailed comments will be treated the same way and available for public inspection and comment. And because the information will become public, the RFI states that proprietary or otherwise sensitive information should not be included.

Comments will be accepted until April 2.

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: “The most important election in my lifetime”

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

Dear Research Advocate,

Is the U.S. slipping from the top? Read The Scientist article about our new national public opinion poll which shows that 58% of likely voters don’t believe the U.S. will be number one in science and technology in 2020. This is just one of the eye-opening findings in our new public opinion poll released yesterday. Findings like these are critical for making the case that our nation is underinvested in research. View the full results of the poll here. Yesterday was a big day for the Research!America Alliance.

Let me express my deep gratitude to all those who attended and supported our events. At our National Forum, we were thrilled to have the agency heads of NIH, NSF, AHRQ, FDA, and CDC participate along with research leaders from industry and academia. What followed was a lively and sobering discussion about the challenges facing science, innovation, and research and what the future may hold for America’s global competitiveness.

Clearly, advocates have our work cut out for us in fighting for U.S. R&D – we are fighting for the very future of our nation. We must roll up sleeves and get to it, this year more than ever. As our Chair, John Porter said several times yesterday: “This is the most important election in my lifetime – none of us can afford to stand back.” Next week, my weekly letter will include a summary of the key points and action items from our Forum. Meanwhile, read press clips of the poll and National Health Research Forum here.

At our awards event, we were honored to hear from Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) as she accepted the Edwin C. Whitehead Award for Medical Research Advocacy. The Senator spoke about the critical role that research plays in our nation and her belief that science needs and deserves bipartisan support. Her advocacy and achievements on behalf of health have saved lives and helped ensure that our economy will continue to be powered by investments in research. My congratulations to the Senator and the other awardees! Roll Call attended the dinner and wrote a sterling review.

On the Congressional front, this is the time to ask your representative and senators to include research in their federal funding priorities. Take a minute now to call or write your representatives and ask that they include increased funding for NIH, CDC, NSF, AHRQ and FDA in their appropriation request letters, investments that truly pay off in terms of longer, healthier lives for Americans enabled by medical breakthroughs, higher economic output for our nation fueled by innovation, and lower health care costs derived from cost-saving improvements to our health care system. To have an impact, advocates need to act soon – the deadline for members of the House to submit their appropriations request letters is March 20, and the deadline for members of the Senate is March 22.

Last week, I wrote about a bipartisan letter in the House in support of increased NIH funding, an effort lead by Reps. Markey and Bilbray. I’m pleased to report that the letter has reached 137 co-signers! Make sure your representative has heard from you – contact them now. This week, Senators Casey (D-PA) and Burr (R-NC) are circulating a bipartisan letter in the Senate that expresses support for strong funding of the NIH. Send an email to your senators and encourage them to sign-on to the Casey-Burr letter to demonstrate our nation’s continued bipartisan commitment to medical research.

Sincerely,

Mary Woolley

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: Hearings on Capitol Hill; Is the Nation Listening?

Thursday, March 8th, 2012

Dear Research Advocate,

The appropriations season has begun in earnest, with hearings on the departments and agencies. Dr. Subra Suresh, director of the National Science Foundation, testified before the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. You can view his testimony here. Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Department of Health and Human Services, testified before the House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday and the Senate Appropriations Committee on Wednesday. In her testimony, she recognized the integral role that the NIH plays in improving health while spurring economic growth. The new National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) was also highlighted as a model for partnering with the private sector to foster the development of new treatments and drugs.

Commissioner Margaret Hamburg testified before the House Subcommittee on Agriculture/FDA appropriations last week, thanking the subcommittee for the recent increases in FDA funding. In her remarks, she highlighted the integral role that FDA plays in approving innovative drugs that can help reduce the cost of health care. You can view Commissioner Hamburg’s full testimony here.

More hearings are coming up. Reps. Ed Markey (D-MA) and Brian Bilbray (R-CA) have stepped up to co-author a Dear Colleague letter to the House Appropriations Committee for at least $1.3 billion in increased NIH funding. This bipartisan effort is exactly what is needed to demonstrate that research is not a Republican or a Democrat issue – it is an American issue that has a dramatic impact on our health, our economy and our global competitiveness. Send a letter to your representatives right away and urge them to sign on to the Markey-Bilbray letter to support NIH funding: http://capwiz.com/ram/issues/alert/?alertid=61067086

Friends of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) is circulating a letter for community sign-on. The letter requests $400 million for AHRQ’s base budget in FY 2013, which is $66 million more than the $334 million level included in the President’s budget. The president supplements AHRQ’s base funding with several budget transfers that, unfortunately, are unlikely to pass Congress. Contact Lindsey Horan at Lindsey.horan@academyhealth.org if your organization would like to sign the letter.

The election frenzy continues with exciting results from Super Tuesday, but there are still more than 20 presidential primaries remaining! Kansas, Wyoming, Alabama, Mississippi and Hawaii are right around the corner and there is still plenty of time to craft an op-ed or letter to the editor. Super Tuesday also marks the start of the congressional primaries, which provide another opportunity to engage candidates on medical research issues. Given the current fiscal debates in Washington, we need to keep research for health top of mind for candidates and elected officials alike and encourage them to stand up for research.

I spoke on Super Tuesday to hundreds of volunteers from every state in the nation who had come to Washington to lobby their representatives (over 300 were visited) for increased medical research funding. I talked about assuring that the next Super Tuesday – November 6 – is indeed “super” for research. You can view my slide deck here.

As you know, our annual events are right around the corner! The Mercury News in San Jose, CA, calls attention to our upcoming Advocacy Awards Dinner at which we will honor Mr. Scott Johnson of the Myelin Repair Foundation. Mr. Johnson will be receiving the Gordon and Llura Gund Leadership Award during our event on March 14. I do hope you can join us in recognizing the Foundation and the other honorees, including the inestimable Sen. Barbara Mikulski.

Sincerely,

Mary Woolley

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: Super Tuesday Ahead – Make Research an Election Issue!

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

Dear Research Advocate,

Last night marked what could be the last of the Republican debates, but of course it’s not the last we will hear from the candidates. The question is: Will they talk about research as critical to the economy and to health? Not if they aren’t pressed on the topic! Across the country, scientists and researchers are working on this, stepping up advocacy in the form of op-eds and letters to the editor. Just in time for the Michigan primary next week, an op-ed by Dr. Gilbert Omenn of the University of Michigan has been published in The Detroit News. Dr. Omenn highlights the local impact and importance of medical research. And, he includes a call to action: “We should all call upon the candidates to make a firm commitment to strengthen investment in health research and other sectors.”

Former Secretary of Health and Human Services Dr. Louis Sullivan is in print as well with a syndicated op-ed published in several McClatchy-owned newspapers including The Sacramento Bee in California and has also been picked up on the Bloomberg wire. Sullivan points out that a frozen NIH budget will hurt our health, impede economic growth and do nothing to help alleviate growing health disparities in the U.S.

On Super Tuesday, March 6, 10 more states will hold their primaries: We are standing by to help you write an op-ed to appear in AK, GA, ID, MA, ND, OH, OK, TN, VT or VA. Let’s make sure science and health research are part of the election dialogue.

If you are not already signed up, please join us March 14, when Research!America convenes our annual National Forum, “World Class to Second Class? Confronting the Risks to U.S. Science and Innovation,” featuring agency heads and other research leaders from across the country. The Forum will be moderated by Washington bureau chief of The New York Times, David Leonhardt, and Dr. Richard Besser, senior health and medical editor for ABC News. Panelists and the audience will discuss what it will take to maintain our nation’s leadership in research and innovation. This is the only annual event that brings all the health research agency heads together. More information and event registration can be found here.

March 14 is also the date of our Annual Advocacy Awards dinner. I am thrilled to announce that Sen. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland will be with us to receive the Edwin C. Whitehead Award for Medical Research Advocacy. Sen. Mikulski has been a staunch advocate for research for health and the physical sciences, leading efforts to stem heart disease in women, advance Alzheimer’s research, and help ensure patient safety through the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA). Other award winners are Dr. Sanjay Gupta (CNN), Dr. Margaret Foti (American Association of Cancer Research), Mr. Scott Johnson (Myelin Repair Foundation), Dr. Donald Lindberg (National Library of Medicine) and the Food Allergy Initiative. Please join me in recognizing those who have made such a tremendous difference for health and medical research in this country.

Sincerely,

Mary Woolley

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: How Did Research Fare in the President’s Budget? And now what?

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

Dear Research Advocate,

As we discussed yesterday in a Research!America members-only conference call, President Obama’s budget recommendations for FY13, while positive for NSF, AHRQ and FDA, effectively flat-funded NIH, and CDC was cut dramatically. Particularly during a tough climb back to economic stability, our nation cannot afford to tread water or set back the clock on medical innovation and public health. Budget cuts have already had a negative impact on research institutions as this recent article in the Cincinnati Business Journal highlights.

During our call we heard from top White House officials that the administration’s goal is for 3% of GDP to be committed to R&D (public and private sector combined), a level not seen since the 1960s. Getting there is a heavy lift, however, particularly given the current strictures established by the Budget Control Act. The White House and the media know that we will be fighting for stronger budgets for science from Congress. Doing anything less is a ticket to reduced economic activity, stymied potential for more efficient and effective health care, and widened gaps in the infrastructure that prevent costly and potentially deadly public health incidents. Read our release on the president’s budget here and see recent articles on the president’s budget in The Hill and PharmaTimes that include portions of our statement. The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) will be holding a conference call tonight at 6:30 p.m. EST – be sure to call in to learn more about science in the president’s budget. RSVP here to obtain the dial-in number.

When it comes to NIH, advocates must be steadfast. There is not a lot of maneuvering room, but I still believe we can and should go farther than the president’s budget. NIH should be funded at no less than $32 billion in FY13, which is a $1.3 billion increase over the president’s request. Last year, we saw support for a $1 billion increase in NIH despite overall budget cuts. This year we need to build on that momentum, taking it from recommendations and failed amendments to reality. We have to make the case that to flat-fund NIH is to undercut the nation’s determination to return to economic growth and prosperity.

Don’t let up. Write or visit your elected representatives; a visit to your member’s local office is a great plan during one of the scheduled recesses coming up. Pen an op-ed or letter to the editor. If you are a patient, the family member of one, or a scientist, use your phone or computer to produce a video explaining why medical research is important to you and to our nation. Research!America will make sure your video makes waves. We’d be glad to help you with any of the other advocacy activities I’ve mentioned as well. And send me your ideas! Are there other ways advocates can make the case for federal research funding? Let me know your thoughts.

Sincerely,

Mary Woolley

P.S.  Election watch:  Last week, the Huffington Post published a strong article by a postdoctoral scientist from Los Alamos National Laboratory. Dr. Michael Ham writes, “As calls to reduce federal benefits grow louder, we must fight short-sighted cuts to the science based engines that underlie our medical, economic, and military might.” Dr. Ham is running for U.S. Senate in Nevada and has stepped up for science as few candidates have.

Research!America’s Statement in Response to President Obama’s FY2013 Budget

Monday, February 13th, 2012

WASHINGTON—Feb. 13, 2012—Research!America Chair, former Congressman John Edward Porter says  President Obama’s budget is a mixed bag for science and innovation, increasing investment in some areas while shortchanging other key agencies.

Porter said, “The president’s recommendation for NIH fails to capitalize on the power of this funding to drive new businesses, new jobs and new treatments. We simply cannot freeze investments in biomedical research. The consequences would be disastrous as global competition intensifies. According to recent polls commissioned by Research!America, 77 percent of Americans agree that the U.S is losing its competitive edge in science, technology and innovation. Congress needs to do the hard work of tax and entitlement reform while protecting investments that make absolute sense for our country. Now is the time for swift action on behalf of science to preserve our future. ”

Research!America president and CEO Mary Woolley said, “While we appreciate that the President increased funding for some key research agencies and promoted priorities like the National Center for the Translational Sciences and combating Alzheimer’s, we strongly believe a frozen budget for the NIH will flat line medical breakthroughs in the coming years and stifle the business and job creation that begins with research and development. Researchers will leave the field, potential breakthroughs will be shelved and new business opportunities grounded in medical discovery will evaporate as research institutions struggle with leaner budgets. We are also concerned by the significant cut to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, the bedrock of basic health and safety for Americans. We urge Congress to set priorities that will sustain the full spectrum of health research from discovery to delivery.”

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: Research in and out of Washington

Friday, February 3rd, 2012

Dear Research Advocate,

This week, I attended a meeting convened by Presidential Science Advisor Dr. John Holdren, at which he and leaders from the Office of Public Engagement and the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness spoke about the president’s commitment to science and science education, and to public-private partnership. The assembled group offered suggestions for increasing the national commitment to our issues. It was an opportunity to highlight public support via our polling, as well as to hear what others are doing to assure that the U.S. does not lose our world-class standing in science and innovation. Representatives of the Office of Science and Technology Policy and the Office of Public Engagement will be joining us for Research!America’s quarterly members-only conference call, which will take place on February 15,  two days after the president’s budget is released. Send an email to Ellie Dehoney, VP for Policy & Programs, at edehoney@researchamerica.org to RSVP.

The results are in from Florida’s primary. Before going to the polls, readers of The Tampa Tribune were reminded of the importance of medical research in an article by Dr. Thomas Sellers, director of the Moffitt Research Institute. Dr. Sellers writes, “The medical science community and, indeed, the public at large need to hear and understand the plans of government leaders, especially the presidential candidates, who will decide whether this great nation will capitalize on the incredible discoveries made so far by investing in medical science research.” The media momentum is starting to build on our issue; we can’t let up! Indeed, in the next two weeks, Nevada, Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri will hold their presidential primaries and caucuses. If you live in those states or know residents, I urge you to submit an op-ed or letter to a local paper making the case that the future of research for health should be an election year issue. We simply must raise the profile of this issue, and the presidential and congressional elections provide a platform for doing just that. As always, we are more than willing to help in this effort.

In the same way that voters have a right to know where candidates stand, the public has a right to know how tax dollars for research are making a difference in their lives. Researchers can do that in many ways, one of which is using our new NIH Milestones one-pager, which makes it very clear just how taxpayer-supported research works hand-in-hand with the private sector to get the job done for the patient. Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-CA) is a great spokesperson for this synergy – today at the American Association of Cancer Research briefing on Capitol Hill, he spoke of the ecosystem of science as dynamic and interdependent, and at risk right now. He urged bipartisan support for research funding and research-friendly policies, saying, “Friends don’t let friends cut medical research.” My comment on that is that medical research needs many more friends, both in and out of Congress. FASEB has launched a new initiative that could be called “friend-raising” for research, by researchers; as we have all been saying for years, we can’t expect voters and those they elect to advocate for an enterprise they have little or no knowledge or contact with. We must put more faces on research!

In the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Dr. Arthur Levine, the senior vice chancellor for the Health Sciences and dean of the School of Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), has done just that. Dr. Levine describes the potential damage of impending cuts to medical research, concluding, “Let’s not imperil the next generation of cures, and further compromise the economic health of our communities today, by cutting funding for medical research.” Other leaders around the nation are stepping up – engaging media and attending town hall meetings. Let’s drive toward the tipping point and assure that not only will there be no cuts, there will be increases in the FY13 budget and beyond.

Sincerely,

Mary Woolley

More on the Baker Institute Study

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

In her most recent weekly advocacy message, Research!America President and CEO Mary Woolley referenced a study from the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University. The study, by four people with ties to the institute, found that Nobel Prize-winning scientists make their breakthrough discoveries, on average, at age 41. The same study found that in 2008, the average age of researchers earning their first grant from the National Institutes of Health was 42.

That’s a profound discovery by the authors – Baker faculty Vivian Ho, PhD; Baker fellow Kristin R. W. Matthews, PhD; and former Baker interns Kara Calhoun and Nathan Lo – and one that doesn’t speak well to our global competitiveness.

Moreover, one detail gets lost: The average age of first-time NIH grantees was 42 – in 2008.

From FY08 to FY10, the NIH budget grew by about $1.33 billion; funding has been stagnant since then. NIH Director Francis Collins, MD, PhD, notably told a Senate subcommittee last spring that his agency was expecting the lowest grant success rate in history.

That’s why funding medical research is so critical. What discovery will we miss, what longshot experiment won’t yield breakthroughs, what science is being overlooked because research has not been accelerated like it could have?

Research is about what we find. But in this day of consternation about America’s competitive future, we don’t want to look back wondering what we missed.

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: Young Researchers and Young Advocates tell their stories; so should you!

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

Dear Research Advocate,

The primary race continues, and we continue our drive to put research on the primary agenda. Shortly before the New Hampshire primary, the Concord Monitor published a touching and timely op-ed by former Research!America intern Emily Norton. Sadly, Emily recently lost her mom to cancer. She tells her story and suggests what voters can do to make medical research a higher priority during the elections. Policy makers have the power to make medical research a higher priority – it us up to us to make sure they get the message! As the candidates stump in South Carolina for the upcoming primary, voters want to know where Romney, Santorum, Paul and Huntsman stand on health research issues. Urge them to respond to our voter education questionnaire (former Speaker Gingrich already has) and pen your own op-ed!

Dr. Kerri Mowen, a researcher at the Scripps Research Institute, is one researcher who is speaking out. A front-page San Diego Union-Tribune article, “Scientists on edge about future of NIH funding,” provides insight into the funding challenges facing science and researchers like Dr. Mowen. She tells the paper, “My colleagues and I wonder how biomedical science will survive. My students and postdocs wonder if there is going to be a future for them. I figured that we can either sit around being frustrated, or we can try to insure that the U.S.’s long-term investment in science is not wasted.” Dr. Mowen has started an online petition to boost NIH funding. Be sure to sign on if you haven’t already and share with your networks.

We can’t allow young researchers to become an endangered species. A majority of Americans, 73%, say the government should emphasize STEM careers for young Americans. And 77% of Americans say they are concerned that the U.S. is losing its global competitive edge in science, technology and innovation. Information like this, featured in our recent poll data summary and in my guest column in BIOtechNOW, demonstrates that Americans know the importance of science to our nation’s future and to the future of young scientists. Stakeholders in research can use our poll data to demonstrate to policy makers that Americans believe research and STEM education should be a higher priority for our nation.

This is especially important in the context of a recent study from the Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University, which found that the average age of researchers getting their first grant from NIH was 42 in 2008. The same study also found that Nobel Prize winners, on average, performed their groundbreaking research when they were 41. If we fail to provide robust support for young scientists, we may lose our best and brightest and the transformational discoveries they could make. Not to mention that we will not reap the health and economic benefits of Nobel-caliber science. This is the wrong message for young scientists and the wrong direction for America – we need to work together to make sure our policy makers get it right.

Sincerely,

Mary Woolley

Dept. of Commerce Report: Government Must Invest in Research, Education, Infrastructure

Monday, January 9th, 2012

As required by the America COMPETES Act, the Department of Commerce released a report Friday that examined the state of U.S. competitiveness and innovative capacity.

The conclusion: Federal investment in three areas – research, education and infrastructure – is critical for America to begin to make up ground lost to emerging economies. Failing to do so, the report says, threatens nothing short of the American way of life.

“Some elements of the U.S. economy are losing their competitive edge,” the report states, “which may mean that future generations of Americans will not enjoy a higher standard of living than is enjoyed in the United States today.”

Investment in research, and specifically basic research, will help the U.S. regain competitive ground. The report cites American successes in innovation in the 20th century and traces many world-changing ideas back to federal funding. Among them: A grant in the early 1940s to two University of Pennsylvania researchers to develop the Electronic Numeral Integrator And Computer – ENIAC – was made by the U.S. Army to help calculate the proper firing of artillery. From 1949 to 1959, the report says, federal spending accounted for 59% of all funding to develop the computer. Today, computers of one kind or another touch nearly every aspect of our lives. Moreover, they helped the U.S. become the world’s foremost computer developer, manufacturer and consumer.

And that’s another key to the report: The federal investment that leads to discovery, which then becomes the basis for a private company. The report calls out Madison, WI-based TomoTherapy and Hopkinton, MA-based Xenogen as companies that came about because of discoveries made from National Institutes of Health funding. Together, they employ more than 1,000 people – and they’re only two of the 16. One of the others – which arose from a grant from the National Science Foundation – is based in Mountain View, CA, and doodles in its spare time. In another case, one closer to the heart of medical researchers, the report notes that NIH and NSF funding helped launch Genentech.

As it pertains to medical research, the report recommends several actions to keep the U.S. competitive: increase government funding for basic research; sustain government funding for research generally; enhance and extend the R&D tax credit; support innovative entrepreneurs; shorten the “valley of death,” as it’s known, and reduce the amount of time from discovery to application; accelerate biotech, nanotechnology and advanced manufacturing R&D; and develop ways to measure the value and effectiveness of research investment.

The 160-page report also touches on the importance of education – particularly in the STEM areas of science, technology, education and math – as well as the importance of updating the country’s infrastructure (the report focuses on air traffic control, wireless communications and cloud computing) and revitalizing the manufacturing sector.

Members of Congress reacted to the report.

“We need solutions to America’s economic competitiveness problems and this report is a good first step,” Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) said in a statement. Rockefeller is chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. “Underinvestment in sectors like STEM education, high-tech research and 21st century infrastructure has diminished the nation’s competitive edge. Sustained federal investment in these sectors will not just help grow today’s economy, but it will also lay the groundwork for generations to come.”

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

Thursday, December 29th, 2011

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