Post-Election Briefing Focuses on Future of Medical Research, Science

Campaign for Cures

The Campaign for Cures Election 2016 blog features news, analysis, commentary and data about the presidential candidates and congressional races in key states on issues relevant to medical progress. Janice Lloyd, former USA Today senior editor and health reporter, manages The Campaign for Cures blog. You can reach Janice at campaignforcures@gmail.com.   Follow Campaign for Cures, a national voter education initiative, on Twitter and Facebook and visit www.campaignforcures.org

Post-Election Briefing Focuses on Future of Medical Research, Science

By: 
Janice Lloyd

A panel of distinguished scientists and research advocates discussed the future of federal funding for biomedical research and the role the science community will play in President-elect Donald Trump’s administration at Research!America’s 2016 Post-Election Briefing Tuesday at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Washington, D.C.

During the divisive campaign, Trump said very little about those topics, focusing instead on his goal to create jobs and to reform the Affordable Care Act, taxes, immigration, and national security. Since he’s been elected, it’s time to ask questions about how he and members of Congress will be champions of medical progress.

“We have to have these conversations so we can make a difference going forward,’’ said Research!America’s President and CEO Mary Woolley in her opening remarks. “We want to change the image of things to come. We need to get our ideas across to the transition team.”

Lori Stokes, co-anchor, WABC-TV Eyewitness News, moderated the conversation. Her father, the late Ohio Congressman Lewis Stokes, was a board member of Research!America. Sitting on Tuesday’s panel were: The Honorable Lou Sullivan, M.D., U.S Secretary of Health and Human Services (1989-1993); The Honorable John Edward Porter, Research!America Board Chair and U.S. Representative (1980-2001); The Honorable Mike Castle, Research!America Vice Chair, U.S. Representative (1993-2011); and Rush Holt, CEO of AAAS and U.S. Representative (1999-2015).

First, Stokes generated a question about how optimistic we can be going forward.

“This is a massive organization that he is leading,’’ Sullivan said. “The challenge that he has is identifying and recruiting high caliber people. I think we have to be optimistic, and I say as citizens we have to find ways that we can be helpful because this is our country. We can’t turn it over simply to one individual and step aside.”

Holt said people shouldn’t be surprised health and science didn’t enter the campaign very much, but added: “Taking the pessimistic point of view does no good. I found it troubling throughout the campaign that candidate Trump and his followers said ‘Well, he didn’t really mean what he said.’ I’m trying to get used to the idea that he says listen to the general idea and not my words.”

Other questions focused on how to get the word across to Congress and a new administration, which doesn’t support evidence-based science regarding climate change, about the critical role of science, making funding for it a priority, and including scientists at every level of the administration.

Porter is optimistic about funding because, he said, it is strongly supported by Congressional leaders Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK-04), both assigned to appropriation committees overseeing health. Porter looked ahead to Trump’s cabinet appointments, adding that one of Trump’s close advisors, Newt Gingrich, is a “tremendous supporter of medical research.”

“I’m terribly interested in who he appoints as his HHS Secretary because I think that will show the direction of science,’’ Porter said.

Castle, who said he voted for Trump, added “I totally believe educating Congress is important. They each have staff people who are ready to talk at any point. Once they’re educated, once they hear about a solution, like the solution to AIDS and polio, they’re all aboard.’’

And that’s why we’re having this conversation. While there’s still much to be learned about the direction the next administration will take, attempting to get everyone onboard, said Woolley, gets back to Research!America’s mission to help Americans and their policymakers understand the critical role research plays in keeping America globally competitive and making the lives of Americans healthy and prosperous.

For a video of the event, click here

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Presidential Candidates Should Participate in Debate on Science

 
Source: A Research!America and ScienceDebate.org poll of U.S. adults conducted in partnership with Zogby Analytics in September 2015.

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