Dear Research Advocate: The devastation wreaked by Hurricane Harvey is heartbreaking. Federal science agencies and individual members of the scientific community across the nation are stepping up to lend a hand. It is truly gratifying to see the outpouring of support among those in the research and public health communities, aiding institutions and residents impacted by the floods. The American Diabetes Association , JDRF, the Endocrine Society, American Public Health Association (APHA), and PhRMA are among our many member organizations sending medicines, equipment and resources to hard-hit areas. A timely National Academies report chaired by Research!America board member Georges Benjamin,...
Health care has always fascinated me. Florence Nightingale was my first hero and I was probably about eight when I started reading books on the bubonic plague for fun; but what fascinated me most was the experiences my family and I had with health care. As a high-level gymnast, I was fortunate to receive comprehensive health care from a very young age. My sports medicine doctor prescribed more than pain relievers and ace bandages. He prescribed strength and conditioning exercises, diet modifications, sports psychologists and even tricks for falling asleep at night. Outside of sports medicine, I did not always observe this level of care. Most notably, when I was 13 I accompanied my mom to a...
The Total Solar Eclipse of 2017 was not only riveting, it was a reminder that Americans are as enraptured as ever by science. The challenge is not to convince the public that scientific exploration is meaningful, it is to convince them that scientific exploration is at risk. Which brings me back, inevitably, to the federal budget. When they return from August recess, members of Congress face formidable budget challenges: to prevent default, they need to raise the debt limit. To prevent a government shutdown, they need to pass an FY18 budget bill. There are only 12 days in September when both houses of Congress are in session, and President Trump needs to sign these bills (or a combined bill...
On September 13-14, advocates from across the country will gather in Washington D.C. to connect with policymakers for discussions on the life-saving research funded by federal investments. The Rally for Medical Research was founded in 2013 as a result of budget sequestration, the automatic spending cuts enacted across all federal government agencies, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The Rally brings researchers and advocates to Capitol Hill to discuss the economic and health impact of research supported by the NIH. Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), chair of the House Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee, will speak to advocates September 14 just before they head to Capitol...
Dear Research Advocate: The Trump Administration released its first list of science priorities , an annual White House document intended to guide federal agency budget-making as it relates to research and development. You are likely getting tired of me asserting that the news is mixed when it comes to the goings on in Washington...the news here is mixed. There are several glaring and disturbing, albeit unsurprising, omissions: e.g., no acknowledgement that our nation is grossly and dangerously underfunding R&D relative to the threats we face and the returns it generates; no reference to leveraging R&D against climate change. But there are aspects of this document that are heartening...
Postdoctoral researchers (postdocs) comprise a large part of the scientific community and have been instrumental in many scientific advances. Unfortunately, there is currently no nationwide standard to guide how they are mentored as they transition to the working world. This needs to change. Since its inception in the 1920s, postdoc training has gone through several changes, and there are currently many variations in how it is carried out, but the primary objectives remain the same: to give new Ph.D. scientists direct mentorship and hands-on experience as they transition to tenure-track faculty positions, and to free up time for professors to teach, complete administrative tasks and write...
Dear Research Advocate: This afternoon I participated in a stimulating forum on “Transformational Imperatives,” hosted by the Stanley Manne Children’s Research Institute at the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. Board members and friends of the Institute engaged speakers on topics of the moment; in fact, my presentation was all about the moment, i.e., “Research in Context.” Scientific opportunities can be enabled or derailed by our elected representatives, who determine funding and policies-- which is to say, a major part of the ‘context’ of research. While they don’t do their decision-making in a vacuum, it can seem like that, especially when scientists and all of us...
The “House of Hope,” also known as Building 10, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Clinical Center, offers patients with limited treatment options the opportunity to participate in experimental clinical trials. The Discovery Channel has filmed an in-depth look into how medical discovery takes place at the Center. With the consent of thousands of staff members and patients, the resulting documentary First in Human , narrated by actor Jim Parsons, will air in a three-part series August 10, 17, and 24 at 9:00PM ET/PT on Discovery. This unprecedented access to ongoing research invites the public to learn more about the clinical trial experience. In a recent survey commissioned by Research!...
Imagine a world in which researchers can accurately measure a person’s risk of developing a wide range of diseases and then provide them with individualized methods of prevention, treatment and care. That world is what the National Institutes of Health (NIH)’s All of Us Research Program is striving to create. All of Us seeks to enroll one million or more volunteers whose biological samples, along with lifestyle and health information, will be analyzed to give researchers better insights into the biological, environmental and behavioral factors that lead to disease. “So much of what we’ve done in medicine over the years has not really taken into account individual differences,” said Dr...
Dear Research Advocate: Earlier this week, I met the new dean of the Duke Medical School, Dr. Mary Klotman. She invited me to talk with young MD-PhD investigators who are part of Duke’s Robert Lefkowitz (A Nobel Laureate) Society. It is extremely powerful to be in a room with so much talent, commitment and promise; I encouraged these accomplished young leaders to look for ways to convey their passion for research outside academia, and offered to help. Young scientists’ innovation and energy are vital, not only to science but to science advocacy. The distinction a ‘laureate’ conveys is inspiring to scientists and non-scientists alike. In recognition of that, Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and...

Sidebar Quote

We have health challenges in this country that science will provide answers for if given the chance and we haven't given science that opportunity
Mary Woolley, President and CEO, Research!America