A weekly advocacy message From Mary Woolley: 2016 is off to a fast start

Mary Woolley

Dear Research Advocate: 
 
As the new year begins we are hard at work building on the momentum created by Congress’ strong support of research in 2015 to ensure that robust funding and pro-innovation policies will be the norm, not the exception, in the years ahead. I applaud the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS-CAN) for sponsoring a terrific full page ad in The Washington Post yesterday, offering thanks to Congress and thanks to research for providing new hope to patients and their families. Another group to thank is all the many partners in advocacy -- you! -- who have worked together so effectively to achieve the successes of the last year.

Advocacy is indeed a team sport, as well as a constant work in progress. Research!America’s priorities and strategies are shaped by input from our members. We released our initial policy wish list yesterday and invite you to work with us in refining and then accomplishing these goals. Please join our 2016 advocacy planning meeting on Friday, January 15, from 9:30 -10:30 a.m. ET. For more information, please contact Jacqueline Lagoy at jlagoy@researchamerica.org.

Looking ahead to what 2016 will bring in Congress, we can make a few predictions. The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 ensured that sequester relief would continue for FY17; however, the cap adjustment for FY17 provides less relief than it did for FY16. That makes achieving robust increases for federal health agencies a challenge, but one we can meet. In the coming months, Congress will likely debate a number of policies, including the ban on federally funded gun violence-related research. When announcing his executive actions on gun violence, President Obama called for evidence-based strategies to reduce gun violence and for more research to improve gun safety. The President will deliver his final State of the Union message Tuesday, January 12. Having weighed in with his team last month about the importance of making science and innovation -- including a public health research approach to reducing gun violence --  a higher priority, we’ll be listening closely...and trust you will, too. 

With the calendar flipped to 2016, campaign season is truly upon us. Our mission during this cycle is to ensure the need for faster medical progress is deeply embedded in the campaign dialogue. The Portland Press Herald published a letter to the editor on this topic by Research!America’s VP of Communications, Suzanne Ffolkes, earlier this week. But many more of our voices -- your voices -- must be raised in all forms of media if we are to succeed in our goal.  Next Thursday, January 14, FOX Business is hosting a Republican debate and Sunday, January 17, NBC News is hosting a Democratic debate; both in South Carolina. Tweet your questions to the hosts in advance, by including the handles @FoxBusiness and @NBCNews. I hope you’ll join our voter education initiative Campaign for Cures in 2016. The message will be strengthened with our many voices combined.   

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If concerted, long-term investments in research are not made, America will lose an entire generation of young scientists.
Brenda Canine, PhD; McLaughlin Research Institute, Montana