A weekly advocacy message from Mary Woolley: Leadership when it counts: then and now
Dear Research Advocate:
The five-year, $10 billion Innovation Fund for the NIH included in the second draft of the 21st Century Cures bill has generated enthusiasm...and confusion, primarily because an authorizing committee is calling for a mandatory appropriation. For those interested in understanding this and other distinctions on the fund, please click here.
Whether you delve into the details on the Innovation Fund or other aspects of the draft now, later or never, the 21st Century Cures initiative is important for its focus on speeding medical progress. We have held two meetings for Research!America alliance members to discuss the initiative. During yesterday's meeting, the participants decided it would be valuable to put together a sign-on letter in support of the Innovation Fund. Since the Health Subcommittee may consider the bill as early as next Thursday, it is necessary to turn that letter around quickly. Please keep an eye out for it in your inbox! And if you haven’t already, please thank the policymakers who are championing the Cures effort: Reps. Fred Upton (R-MI-06), Diana DeGette (D-CO-01), Frank Pallone (D-NJ-06), Joe Pitts (R-PA-16) and Gene Green (D-TX-29).
Speaking of champions, Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) have established an NIH Caucus to fight for more funding. Please contact your Senators and ask them to join! More on the recruitment effort here.
Opportunity knocks: the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) is inviting input on its strategic visioning process. The deadline to submit ideas is May 15. More here.
On Tuesday, NIH dedicated a building to Lowell P. Weicker, Jr., former Senator (R-CT) and Governor (I-CT). Governor Weicker was Research!America’s founding president and CEO. During his six-year tenure as Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate subcommittee on Labor/H Appropriations in the 1980s, NIH funding was increased by 56%. His bold leadership in assuring significant new funding -- against the objections of many -- for the ramp up in HIV/AIDS research led to the development of AZT and saved millions of lives; his work to secure the civil rights of Americans with disabilities assured a better life for millions more.
In his remarks, Governor Weicker referred to NIH as the “National Institutes of Hope”. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), who worked closely with him in the Senate, saluted Weicker’s courage, foresight and inspiration, and called attention to how that same level of leadership is sorely needed today in the face of significant health challenges coupled with disturbing anti-science forces in our nation. Well said, Senator!