A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: The Stage Is Set for Action in 2018

Mary Woolley

Dear Research Advocate:

In considering resolutions for the coming year, I am reminded that resolution connotes action. I am optimistic that 2018 will be a year of action, a year in which research and innovation amp up our economy, even as they lead to better health and quality of life. Congress will respond to advocates if we all take action and amp up our efforts — it’s an election year, after all!

Love it or loathe it, tax reform has set the stage for additional action to drive the economy. In addition to passing a bipartisan budget deal that lifts spending caps for both defense and non-defense discretionary funding, and repealing or suspending the medical device tax, Congress and the Administration must act to reduce the administrative and regulatory burden on researchers and their agencies, institutions and companies. I encourage you to connect with your elected officials while they are in their home districts and states this week. Let policymakers know of your expectations for them in the election year ahead.

2018 will be a year of substantially expanded patient engagement in research — and the public is ready. A survey commissioned by Research!America shows that a majority of Americans (86%) agree that health care professionals should discuss clinical trials with patients as part of their standard of care. An exciting new avenue for patient engagement is the National Institutes of Health’s All of Us Research Program (AoU). AoU invites submission of research questions the program could help answer, a great way to invite the patient in. In this way, AoU is moving us all closer to the South African disability community’s excellent maxim: “Nothing about us without us.” You don’t have to be enrolled in AoU to weigh in; I urge you to speak up.

Make it your resolution to engage candidates and participate in the political process this election year. As in every election year for some time now, we will offer insights and suggestions in the run up to Election Day (November 6). The recent Virginia election underscores the difference one person can make. The partisan balance of power in the Virginia House of Delegates may end up being decided by a lottery drawing; a contest between two candidates ended in a tie. This is a real-time example that every vote counts; there’s no standing on the sidelines. Voting is essential but it is not enough. Our individual and collective resolution must be to assure that every candidate running for Congress hears regularly in 2018 about the high priority they must place on research and innovation to achieve medical progress.

As you read our summary blog about federal agencies’ accomplishments in 2017, consider all the positive impacts of the investment this nation is making in research. Celebrating achievements and solutions is a good way to salute the outgoing year even as we resolve to fuel the enterprise that will accelerate medical, health and all scientific progress in 2018.

Happy New Year to you and yours from all of us at Research!America.

Sincerely,

Mary Woolley

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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