Blog

Research!America is dedicated to ensuring a strong public and private sector investment in research to improve health at a level warranted by scientific opportunity and supported by public opinion. Each blog post aims to inform readers about the health and economic benefits of research.  

Recent Blog Posts

Dear Research Advocate: The Trump Administration released its first list of science priorities , an annual White House document intended to guide federal agency budget-making as it relates to research and development. You are likely getting tired of me asserting that the news is mixed when it comes to the goings on in Washington...the news here is mixed. There are several glaring and disturbing, albeit unsurprising, omissions: e.g., no acknowledgement that our nation is grossly and dangerously underfunding R&D relative to the threats we face and the returns it generates; no reference to leveraging R&D against climate change. But there are aspects of this document that are heartening...
Postdoctoral researchers (postdocs) comprise a large part of the scientific community and have been instrumental in many scientific advances. Unfortunately, there is currently no nationwide standard to guide how they are mentored as they transition to the working world. This needs to change. Since its inception in the 1920s, postdoc training has gone through several changes, and there are currently many variations in how it is carried out, but the primary objectives remain the same: to give new Ph.D. scientists direct mentorship and hands-on experience as they transition to tenure-track faculty positions, and to free up time for professors to teach, complete administrative tasks and write...
Dear Research Advocate: This afternoon I participated in a stimulating forum on “Transformational Imperatives,” hosted by the Stanley Manne Children’s Research Institute at the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. Board members and friends of the Institute engaged speakers on topics of the moment; in fact, my presentation was all about the moment, i.e., “Research in Context.” Scientific opportunities can be enabled or derailed by our elected representatives, who determine funding and policies-- which is to say, a major part of the ‘context’ of research. While they don’t do their decision-making in a vacuum, it can seem like that, especially when scientists and all of us...
The “House of Hope,” also known as Building 10, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Clinical Center, offers patients with limited treatment options the opportunity to participate in experimental clinical trials. The Discovery Channel has filmed an in-depth look into how medical discovery takes place at the Center. With the consent of thousands of staff members and patients, the resulting documentary First in Human , narrated by actor Jim Parsons, will air in a three-part series August 10, 17, and 24 at 9:00PM ET/PT on Discovery. This unprecedented access to ongoing research invites the public to learn more about the clinical trial experience. In a recent survey commissioned by Research!...
Imagine a world in which researchers can accurately measure a person’s risk of developing a wide range of diseases and then provide them with individualized methods of prevention, treatment and care. That world is what the National Institutes of Health (NIH)’s All of Us Research Program is striving to create. All of Us seeks to enroll one million or more volunteers whose biological samples, along with lifestyle and health information, will be analyzed to give researchers better insights into the biological, environmental and behavioral factors that lead to disease. “So much of what we’ve done in medicine over the years has not really taken into account individual differences,” said Dr...
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...
Dear Research Advocate, In a week with lots of mixed signals on health care, we released new survey data that shows a striking increase in public support for empowering patients (and we are all patients!) to participate in clinical trials. A strong majority say joining a clinical trial is as valuable as donating blood. And a new question shows the public would value providers discussing clinical trials as a routine part of health care. These findings come just as NIH’s “All of Us” initiative launches a new grant program to encourage enrollment in the ambitious one million-enrollee clinical research effort. Read more about our survey , and plan to attend our National Health Research Forum in...
An overwhelming majority (86%) of Americans say discussions about clinical trials should be a part of standard of care, according to the latest national public opinion survey commissioned by Research!America. The most recent survey found 37% of Americans say they would ‘very likely’ participate in a clinical trial if their doctor recommended, an 11% increase from 2013 but a strong majority (74%) say neither their doctor nor other health care professional has ever talked to them about medical research. “The option to participate in a clinical trial, when appropriate, should be a routine part of the health care encounter and ACRO will continue to work with Research!America and others to...
The gap between increasing global health risks and declining levels of investment in research and development (R&D) is growing, according to a newly released report , Return on Innovation: Why global health R&D is a smart investment for the United States. Released by the Global Health Technologies Coalition (GHTC) and Policy Cures Research, the study notes global health R&D investments have declined since peaking in 2009 despite the health impact and economic returns from these investments. A notable example is the polio vaccine which resulted in cost savings of $180 billion on treatment relative to the $26 million invested in vaccine research and development. The government...
Dear Research Advocate, I was honored to speak yesterday to a group of early-career global health researchers, plus alums and mentors, gathered for orientation and training under the auspices of NIH’s Fogarty International Center. Following my prepared remarks we had a terrific informal discussion. A question from a researcher who had grown up in Kentucky triggered a thoughtful exchange: “how do I explain the value of my work to a resident of rural Kentucky, including why her taxes should pay for it?” These two linked but separate questions can seem quite daunting if, like most researchers, you have never been oriented, much less trained, to consider the public context of research. We’re...

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We have health challenges in this country that science will provide answers for if given the chance and we haven't given science that opportunity
Mary Woolley, President and CEO, Research!America