advocacy

How does a biomedical sciences student with interests in clinical research go on to intern in the United States Senate? Like many other students, my undergraduate career followed a traditional path toward higher education. I kept my grades up, participated in extracurriculars, and was involved in a few clubs on campus. However, thanks to friends, mentors and the internet, it was clear that a career in STEM presented an immense number of other amazing opportunities. Looking into these opportunities, research quickly grabbed my attention. A professor was the first to introduce me to research and he motivated me to explore summer research opportunities. Looking back, I am grateful he did,...
Like many aspiring researchers, I have long felt science and technology are deserving of strong advocacy. For me, a passion for doing science and understanding its place in society began developing during my time as an undergraduate at a liberal arts university. In a biophysics course, our first assignment was to write about the history and social repercussions of the HIV/AIDS epidemic based on scientific review articles. That assignment helped me connect a liberal arts education to science, demonstrating that the lasting impact of research stretches beyond the lab. Early in graduate school, I discovered Catalysts for Science Policy (CaSP), founded at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in...
Dear Research Advocate: Congressional leaders have reportedly negotiated a new, two-year budget deal with the White House that would raise the non-defense budget cap by about $37 billion and the defense cap by about $54 billion in FY18, and raise the FY19 caps by the same amounts. With the current continuing resolution (CR) expiring next Friday, December 8, another CR seems all but certain. The question remains whether congressional leaders will: 1) use this CR to give themselves an extra week or two to finish up negotiations on a budget deal and a subsequent omnibus package, or 2) settle on a longer CR that delays budget decisions until January, February or even later next year. A third...
Dear Research Advocate: Yesterday, along with 85 partner organizations (more than ever before!), we celebrated Public Health Thank You Day . Hundreds of people took to social media with the hashtag #PHTYD to celebrate and thank the public health heroes who work 24/7 to maximize community health and safety. Overall, PHTYD garnered 10.1 million impressions on Twitter. Leaders in the field, including CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald, NIH Director Francis Collins, Surgeon General Jerome Adams, APHA Executive Director Georges Benjamin, and World Bank President Jim Kim added their voices to the overwhelming chorus of appreciation. Late last week, news broke of promising discussions in both...
Dear Research Advocate: Yesterday, a high energy discussion on Advocating for Basic Science in a Disease-Focused World at the Society for Neuroscience conference once again revealed the strong appetite for advocacy among scientists, and young scientists in particular. The audience resonated with my point that “you can’t outsource advocacy,” and many were inspired to tweet on the spot. In case you doubt the impact of scientists engaging in advocacy, consider this: Research!America’s Board Chair, former Congressman (R-DE) and Governor Mike Castle, was recently interviewed by the Society for Neuroscience: “Scientists deepened my understanding of the promise of embryonic stem cell research...
Dear Research Advocate: With support from the Kavli Foundation, I’ve had the privilege of visiting research institutions across the country to speak to scientists about public and policymaker engagement. Earlier this week I visited Nebraska and Iowa. Among other topics, we explored the appetite -- a healthy one - for a course within the graduate science curriculum on the “public context” of science (including, but not limited to, the political/policy/funding environment as it bears on research and research bears on it). Hopefully demand will attract supply when it comes to a course like this! Another “frame of reference” issue we discussed relates to science skepticism. It can divide, but...
Dear Research Advocate: Americans spent $8.4 billion on Halloween in 2016 -- and no doubt will spend even more this year-- enough to fund the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) for 17+ years! What we spend to improve the quality of health care delivery represents only about 0.012% of the $3.3 trillion we spend on health care. Stats like these help place research -- in this case health services research (HSR) -- spending into perspective. (For more advocacy-relevant info, see our fact sheet .) The vision for AHRQ that Director Gopal Khanna shares in this terrific blog post underscores why a far greater investment in HSR makes strategic sense for our nation. More on what money...
Dear Research Advocate: I have given several talks recently on the role each of us has in winning hearts and minds for research, stressing the importance of telling stories and connecting emotionally rather than clobbering people with facts. That said, sometimes facts tell stories, and sometimes neither stories nor facts compel desperately needed change. Such is the case with gun violence. It’s time to dig deeper. On an average Sunday in this country, about 100 people are killed by firearms, two-thirds of them by suicide. Three days ago, 58 people who had gathered to watch music were senselessly gunned down by a single shooter. Our nation mourns this and every gun violence tragedy, but we...
Dear Research Advocate: At our 2017 National Health Research Forum last week, three expert panels provided “Straight Talk” about what it means to drive research to achieve a disease-free world; how our country can face-down public health crises like the opioid epidemic; and what we can do to improve the R&D pipeline. The room was filled to capacity, more than 1,300 people across the country tuned in via live-stream, and we even trended on Twitter! We are so grateful to the participants - speakers, panelists, moderators, sponsors and audience - for making this an event that has staying power and consistently seeds new thinking. Check out the recap of the event. As our Forum was in full...
Dear Research Advocate, In a week with lots of mixed signals on health care, we released new survey data that shows a striking increase in public support for empowering patients (and we are all patients!) to participate in clinical trials. A strong majority say joining a clinical trial is as valuable as donating blood. And a new question shows the public would value providers discussing clinical trials as a routine part of health care. These findings come just as NIH’s “All of Us” initiative launches a new grant program to encourage enrollment in the ambitious one million-enrollee clinical research effort. Read more about our survey , and plan to attend our National Health Research Forum in...

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Funding research gives all of us a better chance of living a healthier life.
Pam Hirata, heart disease survivor