A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: Drumbeats and determination

Mary Woolley

Dear Research Advocate,

At this week’s American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) Advocacy Forum, the participants’ energy and determination was palpable as they prepared for a day of meetings with their respective congressional delegations. It was a privilege to address the forum, but I wasn’t the main event. It was more than a little unusual to see David Axelrod and Karl Rove on the same stage; tragically, both have experienced the loss of a parent to suicide. They spoke from the heart and inspired advocates to do the same, counseling them to make - and keep making - the case for investing in research and prevention. Rove emphasized: “Make sure your member of Congress hears about this every time they are at home.”
 
Continuing a drumbeat we’ve heard from leaders on both sides of the aisle, earlier today Labor-H Chairman Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) informed HHS Secretary Price at a hearing that he “wouldn't intend to be part of writing a bill this year that reduces funding for the National Institutes of Health." He indicated that the proposed cuts to CDC are also a non-starter.
 
Unfortunately, it will be impossible for Congress to provide adequate funding for NIH, CDC or any other strategic priority without first taking action to raise the draconian FY18 budget caps. Email Jacqueline Lagoy (jlagoy@researchamerica.org) to join our organizational sign-on letter urging congressional leadership to do just that.
 
During the first of three hearings the Senate HELP Committee is conducting to explore the issue of rising prescription drug costs, Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) emphasized the importance of ensuring continued investment in R&D. The Chairman cited Research!America’s Investment Report as he reviewed “the facts of the case.” In a related development, President Trump reportedly plans to issue executive orders (EOs) focused on drug pricing. It is unclear what new policies these EOs will include, although the list of participants attending a pricing-focused White House meeting tomorrow suggests that value-based purchasing, stricter IP protections in trade deals and changes to the 340B drug discount program may be among them.
 
To ensure support for science, it is essential to communicate its value in compelling ways. Research!America’s Suzanne Ffolkes and Anna Briseno facilitated a workshop last week at the JHU School of Nursing to present strategies for communicating science effectively to different audiences. The Three-Minute Thesis and elevator pitch exercise, concepts that many other scientists are using successfully across the country to connect with non-scientists, resonated well.
 
Experts at communicating science participated in two well-attended Research!America Hill briefings this week, one focused on the development phase of the discovery, development, delivery continuum, and the other discussing migraine. More research is desperately needed to help patients who face what can be a daily struggle against extreme pain and other debilitating symptoms.
 
Good reads this week: Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Vanderbilt University chancellor Nicholas Zeppos on the importance of health, science and research in Colorado and Tennessee, respectively. We must all continue to press on the media front! In a Ft. Wayne, IN, Journal Gazette LTE, I emphasize that a strong majority of Americans (64%) agree that federal support for basic scientific research is necessary. It’s time to convert those silent supporters to advocates; please help by being a role model! 
 

Sincerely,

Mary Woolley

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