A weekly advocacy message from Mary Woolley: Officially out of the starting gate

Mary Woolley

Dear Research Advocate:

Today the Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee considered the 21st Century Cures Act. This bill, in the making for over a year, is now officially 'out of the starting gate' and under consideration by our elected representatives. After a unanimous vote for approval in the subcommittee, a full committee markup is planned for next week. In advance of the subcommittee's consideration, Research!America organized a group sign-on letter expressing support for the NIH Innovation Fund included in the bill.  Our thanks to the 187 organizations within and outside of the Research!America alliance who participated!

As the bill moves through the legislative process in the House and the Senate advances its parallel effort, there will be many more opportunities to weigh in on outstanding issues.  It is imperative, for example, that FDA not be given more responsibilities without an increase in resources, or the bill will slow -- not speed -- medical progress. Careful attention to implications of policy directives for both NIH and FDA is also called for. Your concerns deserve a fair hearing, but they won’t speak for themselves. To ensure that the 21st Century Cures Act delivers on its promises to America, Americans, and ultimately the global community, research advocates must engage and keep engaging.  Please let us know how we can help assure that your voice is heard!

This is National Women’s Health Week, featuring the timely re-introduction of the Research for All Act (H.R. 2101) by Reps. Cynthia Lummis (R-WY-AL) and Jim Cooper (D-TN-05). Speaking as a person who spent a decade working in an NIH-funded clinical trial that excluded women -- it wasn’t long ago that this was standard practice -- significant progress has been made, but the journey continues. This legislation is an important next step. Consider encouraging your representative to cosponsor this legislation.

Speaking of NIH, there is another opportunity to provide comments on future funding priorities. NIH has opened a request for information on neuroscience funding priorities with a May 25 deadline. More here.

Next week is the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) National VA Research Week celebrating 90 years of excellence. Research!America polling shows that Americans are very supportive of research that supports our veterans' health. Only 7% of Americans say there is 'too much' government investment in health research for the benefit of military veterans and service members. As a nation, we can and must do our best to support excellence in research on behalf of our veterans.
 
Sincerely,

Mary Woolley

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Without continued support for health research, many of the most promising young scientists, their ideas and a myriad of potentially life-changing scientific breakthroughs will vanish into oblivion.
Paul Marinec, PhD; University of California San Francisco