A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: Laureates and advocates

Mary Woolley

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 Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) have introduced companion bills to establish a U.S. Science Laureate. While these bills currently lack Republican cosponsors, they were only recently introduced. Please ask your Senators to sign on to S.1684 and your Representative to sign on to H.R. 3639!

As anticipated, the Senate acted today to confirm Indiana Health Commissioner Jerome Adams, M.D. as our nation’s 20th Surgeon General.  As I noted when Dr. Adams was nominated, he is highly respected in the public health community.  We welcome and look forward to working with him.

Today the Senate passed the House version of the FDA “user fee” bill (FDARA) by a vote of 94-1. The bill will next be sent to the White House for the President’s signature, which is expected. Several Senators hoped that amendments would be considered, including one that would repeal the medical device tax. While that didn’t occur, the repeal of this tax is included in a bipartisan proposal to improve the Affordable Care Act. We take special note that this is a bipartisan proposal, but our eyes are open as to the unpredictability surrounding passage of any health care reform legislation.  We will continue to advocate for repealing the tax, whether within or outside of broader reform.

It is rumored that the Senate will mark up their version of the Labor-HHS bill the week of September 5th. It is looking increasingly likely that provisions restricting fetal tissue research (similar to the House bill), as well as new language that would curtail stem cell research, will be included. We are working with other concerned stakeholders to prevent Congress from stopping these avenues of research. Would your organization like to join this effort?  Let Ellie know at edehoney@researchamerica.org

The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget released a white paper today offering recommendations for short-term budget action, and the list starts with replacing the current sequestration budget caps with more reasonable (read “higher”) budget limits. It speaks volumes when key national thought leaders from both sides of the aisle assert the need for a deal that provides more room for discretionary budget growth. Use this action alert to reinforce their call to action in this regard, then mark your calendars for our next alliance members call, which will take place on August 30 at 2:00 p.m. Eastern.  Among the topics: pulling out all the stops to get that budget deal!

First in Human will premiere next Thursday on Discovery.  The documentary is a 3-part series from the NIH Clinical Center capturing the experiences of patients, physicians, researchers, and caregivers. I recommend it to you!  And speaking of the NIH, Director Francis Collins will be a panelist at our National Health Research Forum on September 7th. I encourage you to register for the Forum soon. We will hear from an outstanding lineup of leaders about topics that are top of mind for our nation.  Hope to see you there! 

Sincerely,

Mary Woolley

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