Mary Woolley

The July/August 2016 of The Research Advocate is now online . Highlights from this month include: Announcing a new interactive map and blog as part of the national voter education initiative Campaign for Cures . The user-friendly map of the U.S. features hundreds of quotes on medical progress from candidates across the political spectrum. The Campaign for Cures blog is packed with information related to the election, patient stories, events, and commentary on science, research, and innovation. Registration is now open for the 2016 National Health Research Forum . The event, titled Straight Talk: New Thinking on Tough Challenges , will feature thought-provoking panel discussions on complex...
Dear Research Advocate: The Cancer Moonshot took some exciting steps forward during a day of action that engaged more than 6,000 individuals across the nation. As Greg Simon, the executive director of the Moonshot taskforce, framed it, the moonshot is designed to “invoke systems change in the way we approach cancer.” Pursuing the goal of faster progress from a systems perspective is important, not only because it has led to promising new cross-sector, cross-functional collaborations (e.g. an Oncology Center of Excellence at FDA, new public-private partnerships), but because it may help seed a much needed change in mindset among policymakers committed to faster medical progress. There is a...
Dear Research Advocate: As we grieve the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, the spectre of more to come is deeply troubling. If there were ever a time for action by our elected officials, surely this is it. Yesterday, Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) took to the Senate floor in a nearly 15 hour filibuster to demand action on gun reform, which ended in Republican leadership agreeing to a vote on two pieces of legislation related to gun sales. Senator Murphy was joined by many of his colleagues, including Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL), who said that the American Medical Association’s declaration of gun violence as a public health crisis is “historic,” entering their press release into the record...
Dear Research Advocate: This has been an important week for research, innovation and the power of advocacy. The Senate Appropriations Committee passed the Labor-H bill, which funds NIH, CDC and AHRQ, among other programs. The bill includes a well-justified, but nonetheless remarkable, $2 billion increase for NIH in FY17. However, CDC and AHRQ both receive cuts in the bill ($118 million and $10 million, respectively). While we applaud Chairman Blunt (R-MO), Ranking Member Murray (D-WA) and the Committee as a whole for their extraordinary determination to regrow the NIH budget, underinvesting in CDC and AHRQ is a costly mistake. Read our statement on the bill. It is important to note that...
Dear Research Advocate: It's graduation season and a time to consider the opportunities - and challenges - facing young people, our workforce, our economy and our nation. The director of the National Science Foundation (NSF), Dr. France A. Cordova challenged graduates at Rochester Institute of Technology ( video here ) to find the value in all experiences in life - even when the benefit might not be immediate - and to work with individuals from a wide variety of fields to address the grand challenges of our time. Her messages resonate as lessons learned from basic research, a venture rich in challenge, with gains not always clear at the outset, enhanced by collaborations across disciplines...
Dear Research Advocate: Every seat was taken in the main Carnegie Institution auditorium, and in a large overflow room as well, for a presentation on CRISPR genome editing delivered by Dr. Jennifer Doudna of UC Berkeley. The Monday evening program, which has open to the public, was co-sponsored by the Carnegie Institution for Science, the Council of Scientific Society Presidents and the Kavli Foundation. In addition to explaining how CRISPR-Cas9 is revolutionizing the ‘software’ of biology, Doudna reflected on ethical issues including the conduct of human germline research. In doing so she echoed one of the obstacles to advancing science listed in a slide deck presented by White House...
Dear Research Advocate: Last Sunday, the National Academy of Sciences presented its prestigious Public Welfare Medal to Alan Alda, actor and science communicator, who joins an esteemed group of Medal awardees, including Bill and Melinda Gates and Research!America’s Chair, former Congressman John Porter. In Alda’s acceptance remarks he described a scenario in which members of Congress passed notes to each other during testimony by scientists: “Do you get this? What are they talking about?” In short, a failure of what he called ‘relatability.’ He went on to say that scientists are, all too often, not just failing to communicate with non-scientists, but ‘ex-communicating’ them from science...
Dear Research Advocate: On Monday, the White House provided policymakers with an updated request for Zika funding, keeping the same top-line number of $1.9 billion but directing more resources toward vaccine research. On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) told press he did not expect any opposition in addressing this “fairly significant public health crisis.” The need for Zika funding, and increased global health funding at large, was made even more evident this week with the release of a Global Health Technologies Coalition (GHTC) report outlining the need for the U.S. to robustly invest in global R&D. I had the opportunity to discuss the report with CNN -- check...
Dear Research Advocate: A report out this week by United Health Foundation concluded that an astonishing 72% of Americans have at least one of the five most impactful “unhealthy behaviors” (smoking, physical inactivity, insufficient sleep, excessive drinking or obesity). A White House report out this week quantifies the massive public health threat brought on by climate change and outlines the emerging issues, supporting evidence and the research required to curb these predicted effects. The need for improved public health is more evident then ever, and public health research is the best way to develop evidence-based, outcome-oriented interventions. Good thing it’s National Public Health...
Dear Research Advocate: We celebrated steadfast advocates for research to improve health at last week’s Advocacy Awards Dinner; pictures are now available. Champions like Whitehead awardees Chairmen Blunt and Cole keep us energized in the fight for medical research, even in the face of its virtual absence on the presidential campaign trail. Indeed, Research!America Chairman, Hon. John Porter, urged everyone present to take it upon themselves, as advocates, to make it clear how vital this election is to the future of science, research, and health. Since this is the mission of Campaign for Cures and related Research!America election-year activities, we can help you in your advocacy! Our...

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America’s economic destiny lies in innovation, technology, science and research.
The Honorable John E. Porter