Francis Collins

Dear Research Advocate, Last Friday, I joined ASM CEO Stefano Bertuzzi and Georgetown McDonough School of Business professor and social marketing guru Bill Novelli in a lively session on advocacy for science. Bill emphasized the pivotal role strong leaders play in securing paradigm shifts such as a cultural shift in the value Americans assign to science and innovation. I thought of this when the welcome news broke that President Trump reappointed Dr. Francis Collins as NIH Director. Dr. Collins is second to none in his ability to connect the dots for the public and policymakers on the wide-ranging impact of research and innovation. More good news: the House E&C Committee passed the FDA...
Research conducted at Louisiana institutions benefits not only those in the state but also people across the country, said Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) during his opening remarks at the Louisiana Research Summit held on February 16 at the University Medical Center in New Orleans. The summit, co-hosted by Research!America, assembled federal, state, university, and business leaders to discuss current challenges and opportunities for advancing research in Louisiana. At several junctures during the summit, Senator Cassidy stressed the importance of making Louisiana "easy to work with" by lowering administrative barriers and building on success to date. He also emphasized that the summit was not...
Scientific research is advancing the frontiers of knowledge with discoveries that will ultimately lead to the eradication of life-threatening conditions. Translating discoveries into safe and effective treatments for patients, however, requires robust investments, collaboration and the support of a modernized regulatory system. “When our laws don’t keep pace with innovation, we all lose,” said Representative Fred Upton (R-MI-06), chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Rep. Upton and Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO-01) are spearheading the 21 st Century Cures Act which aims to accelerate the pace of medical innovation from discovery, development to delivery. During the upcoming BIO...
Precision medicine is yielding promising results in treatments of certain diseases, including cancer and cystic fibrosis. It takes a greater and sustained national commitment to accelerate progress that accounts for individual variability in the genes, environment, and lifestyle of each person, and move the concept into clinical practice to benefit more patients. One such commitment has been made by President Obama through the Precision Medicine Initiative, with a $215 million investment in the President’s FY16 Budget. One immediate goal of the Initiative is to significantly expand efforts in cancer genomics to shape the development and use of some cancer treatments. The NIH Innovation Fund...
Dear Research Advocate: This week, the research advocacy community suffered a tremendous loss. John Rehm , husband of Diane Rehm, passed away Monday. Diane, the host of The Diane Rehm Show on NPR, was honored by Research!America last year for her advocacy with the Isadore Rosenfeld Award for Impact on Public Opinion . Her late husband was a friend and longtime supporter of the Parkinson’€™s disease community. Our thoughts are with the Rehm family during this difficult time. As you pursue your advocacy efforts, we hope the newest fact sheet in our series about the human impact of research will prove useful. Max Hasenauer was diagnosed at 22-months-old with X-linked Agammaglobulinemia (XLA)...
Dear Research Advocate: The doubling of the National Institutes of Health budget between FY99 and FY03 is an example of Congress at its most productive ’€¦ and it hinged on bipartisanship. A small group of Republicans and Democrats recognized the power of medical progress, and they worked together to increase the budget baseline for NIH by nearly $11.5 billion. Without that doubling, and with the stagnation of virtually all non-defense discretionary funding that followed on its heels, which groundbreaking medical discoveries would still lie dormant? Which of those we hold dear would not be alive today? Research!America Chair and former Congressman John Porter, who chaired the House Labor-...
Dear Research Advocate: The end of the year is a good time to think ahead and consider our nation at the end of the decade; how will we fare in the world order? My letter this week to the editor of the New York Times highlights poll data indicating that Americans don’€™t believe the U.S. will be the world leader in science and technology by 2020. This data reflects opinions grounded in numerous media reports on China’s accomplishments and determination to lead the world in science. Chinese accomplishments in space of late and their plans for a space station in 2020 ought to be a 21st century “Sputnik moment” for the U.S. It should be a wake-up call to policy makers: get serious about...
Dear Research Advocate: Here’€™s a holiday surprise! I am not referring to the budget deal, but to the fact that Merriam-Webster’€™s 2013 word of the year ’€” determined via the greatest increase in online searches ’€” is “science.” I find this to be refreshing news, providing evidence that interest in science is growing, which in turn is an indication of substantial room for researchers and research advocates to contribute to public understanding and support of science. We appear to have an opportunity ready for the taking to overcome the “invisibility” problem that contributes to holding decision makers back from assigning a higher priority to science. And speaking of those decision...
Dear Research Advocate: NIH Director Francis Collins was recently interviewed for a Wall Street Journal article that would reinvigorate even the weariest research advocate. Dr. Collins captured the legacy and unprecedented potential of research for health, as well as the counterintuitive neglect of it, in a truly compelling manner. Dr. Collins made similarly captivating comments yesterday at the Washington Ideas Forum: “We’€™re going from the envy of the world,” he said, “to the puzzle of the world. Other nations are mystified that we have stopped following our own playbook ’€” the one they are using now to drive their economy and improve health and quality of life for their own populations...
Excerpt of an article by Ariana Eunjung Cha, published in the The Washington Post . A year ago, Yuntao Wu was on a roll. The George Mason University researcher had just published a study hailed by the scientific press as ’€œgroundbreaking’€ that reveals why HIV targets only a specific kind of T-cell and, separately, found that a compound in soybeans seemed to have promise for inhibiting infection. These days, Wu ’€” one of thousands of scientists who lost his grant in the wake of sequester cuts ’€” says he spends much of his time hunched over a desk asking various people and organizations for money. The deep across-the-board cuts in government spending that took effect March 1 have sent...

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You can change the image of things to come. But you can’t do it sitting on your hands … The science community should reach out to Congress and build bridges.
The Honorable John E. Porter