The Research Advocate, our award-winning membership newsletter, provides the latest news and information on medical, health and scientific research advocacy, as well as reports from Research!America and member organizations. Regular features include policy articles, profiles of Research!America members, media coverage of research advocacy issues, a column by Research!America President and CEO Mary Woolley, and important updates to help our members in their own efforts to make research to improve health a higher national priority.

From Research!America

Connecting the Dots: Effectively Communicating Science to Non-Scientists

Research!America and the Executive and Professional Education program at George Washington University's School of Media and Public Affairs (SMPA) co-hosted a two-day workshop, “Connecting the Dots: Effectively Communicating Science to Non-scientists,” on April 13-14 at the GWU Milken School of Public Health in Washington, D.C.

Thirty-four scientists and communicators from research institutions, scientific societies, patient groups and government agencies participated. The workshop packed a wealth of information into two days by combining instruction with active-learning exercises to provide the participants with tools to more effectively communicate research.

A group of experts in public presentations, communications, media and journalism, academic administration, and science presented theories behind their approaches and gave concrete examples of how to implement the suggested strategies. Topics covered included strategic scientific communication; the difficulties of explaining the scientific process; translating data and science into meaningful, emotional and compelling stories; developing and delivering presentations; incorporating the use of metaphors in storytelling; how to talk to the media and social media engagement.

Experts who shared their insights and knowledge were Frank Sesno, director of SMPA; GWU professors David Karpf, Ph.D., and Emily Thorson, Ph.D.; GWU professor and Washington Post reporter Cheryl Thompson; GWU instructor and former reporter Steve Norton; Gallaudet University professor Regina Nuzzo, Ph.D.; journalists Maryanne Culpepper, former president of National Geographic Television, and Denise Cetta, producer, 60 Minutes; and Research!America board members Jay Gershen, D.D.S., Ph.D., president of Northeast Ohio Medical University; Mary J.C. Hendrix, Ph.D., president and scientific director at The Stanley Manne Children’s Research Institute; Susan Dentzer, senior health policy advisor at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; Keith R. Yamamoto, Ph.D., executive vice dean, University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine; and Allen I. Leshner, Ph.D., CEO Emeritus at American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Dentzer recommended the “succes” approach to crafting a compelling message for media: simple, unexpected, concrete, credible, emotional and stories. “The more elements you have of the ‘succes’ model, the more your story will stick,” she said.

Hendrix said it is essential to add context and build consensus with the audience. She also pointed out that preparation is key to an effective narration and offered Research!America as a resource for tools and information to help frame a message.

Senso, a former CNN correspondent, also conducted a mock interview with participant Debra Cooper, Ph.D., California Council on Science and Technology Science Policy Fellow, and panelists provided constructive feedback.

“I believe that a workshop of this sort should be incorporated into every scientific curriculum,” Cooper said in a blog post. “I gained a new set of skills to ensure that I can deliver a single message in multiple and unique ways so that each distinct audience can walk away with an understanding of that message.”

Participants said they look forward to putting the lessons learned into action.

“An enormous strength of the workshop is that it brought what seemed to be disparate issues together and linked them conceptually,” said Paul R. Burghardt, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition and Food Science at Wayne State University in another blog post. “This approach produced an integrative ‘package’ of skills that will be particularly useful for any scientist who is planning to communicate with non-scientists … The workshop also helped me rekindle the mentality that communicating is an exciting opportunity, as opposed to a ‘task’ that has to be accomplished.”

Click here to see photos of the workshop.

Federal Funding for Research Across the Continuum

“It’s the technology that saved my life,” said Denise Sullivan, a heart disease survivor. “Every time I speak to a group and every time I talk to someone, a life is saved.”

Sullivan, a WomanHeart Champion, shared her story and history of family losses associated with heart disease at the Capitol Hill briefing “From Discovery to Delivery: Research at Work Against Heart Disease,” on April 28, co-hosted by Research!America, the American Heart Association and WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease. Lisa Simpson, M.B., B.Ch., M.P.H., president and CEO of AcademyHealth, moderated the forum. The AHA, WomenHeart and AcademyHealth are Research!America members.

Sullivan emphasized that without funding for heart disease research, she would not be alive today.

Speakers representing various aspects of the research continuum spoke to congressional staffers, research stakeholders and patient advocates about heart disease research from discovery to delivery.

“Every year we lose nearly 800,000 lives [to heart disease], and it costs a lot of money, so the burden and toll is very real,” Simpson said. “The federal government has a longstanding role in supporting health research and establishing that foundational knowledge to help and treat heart disease … It is a fundamental public good that our country supports through taxpayer dollars.”

Shobha Ghosh, M.D., professor at Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center, said funding basic research is “an essential function of the federal government and the foundation for all medical advances.”

Precision medicine, improvements in clinical trials and greater use of electronic health records are critical to optimize patient care, said Andrew Zalewski, M.D., vice president and head unit physician in the cardiometabolic therapy area at GlaxoSmithKline, a Research!America member. He implored researchers and policymakers to think about how the research continuum can be streamlined to increase efficiency.

Harry P. Selker, M.D., M.S.P.H., dean of Tufts Clinical and Translational Science Institute at Tufts University, said health services research is key to implementing medical advances in the real world. “The important part of bringing medicines to treatment is doing the research that actually develops those treatments,” Selker said. “We have to rethink the entire funding mechanism for research.”

Woolley Honored at Wake Forest University

Science and scientists are essentially invisible to the public and policymakers. Those were among the main points Research!America President and CEO Mary Woolley shared with Wake Forest School of Medicine faculty and students for the Bo/McCreight Distinguished Neuroscience Lecture Series on April 9, 2015.

As this year’s honoree and lecturer, Woolley focused on the current state of play on Capitol Hill regarding congressional support for medical research in her presentation, "Washington is Paying Attention to Biomedical Research: Is the Devil in the Details?"

Momentum for research is building in Washington, but will it translate to action? That’s the question, she said, noting that -- unlike we have seen for many years -- congressional leaders are now scrambling to tout their support for research supported by the federal health agencies and to introduce measures to boost funding for the National Institutes of Health.

Woolley also described the 21st Century Cures initiative, a bipartisan effort to get new therapies faster to patients, and she urged scientists to become stronger advocates for research. She used Research!America public opinion polling data to illustrate a disturbing lack of knowledge about the research ecosystem among many Americans.

Following her presentation, Barry E. Stein, Ph.D., chairman of the department of neurobiology and anatomy at the school, presented the 2015 Bo/McCreight Distinguished Lecturer Award to Woolley. Previous lecturers in this series include Research!America Chair The Hon. John Edward Porter.

Freshman Hill Briefing

Research!America partnered with United for Medical Research and FasterCures on May 1 to host a frank, off-the-record meeting to introduce first-term Members of Congress to the National Institutes of Health Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D.

The event’s congressional hosts, House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Ranking Member Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), kicked off the conversation and updated the group on the new 21st Century Cures legislative draft and actively participated in the rest of the meeting.

Collins highlighted promising research and explained how recent declining budgets impact discovery. The attendees, including Reps. Rick Allen (R-Ga.), Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), Bob Dold (R-Ill.) and Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), had the opportunity to ask the director specific questions and provide feedback, demonstrating their interest in assuring a strong future for NIH and the research ecosystem as a whole.

Federal Policy Update

Members of the House and Senate Budget Committees negotiated a joint budget resolution for fiscal year 2016 that includes a provision championed by Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) to create a deficit neutral reserve fund for biomedical research. While this fund is largely symbolic, Research!America and other research advocates fought for inclusion of the language as another marker of bipartisan support for increased NIH funding.

The top line budget numbers in the budget resolution adhere to the stringent budget caps established under the 2011 Budget Control Act, which means appropriators must hold spending virtually flat in FY16. Absent any year end compromises that provide exemptions from the budget caps, any increases in agency budgets must come from cuts in other spending. In this spending environment, it is critical to secure as high a budget allocation as possible for the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS-Ed) Appropriations Subcommittee, which determines spending levels for the National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control & Prevention and the Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality. Research!America wrote to Appropriations leadership to make the case for a robust Labor-HHS-Ed allocation.

On April 22, the House Science Committee considered amendments to the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2015 (H.R. 1806), which reauthorizes the National Science Foundation. This year’s legislative language bears a close resemblance to last year’s FIRST Act, including directorate-level authorizations that would compromise NSF's flexibility to allocate funding based on scientific opportunity, deep cuts to social, behavioral and economic sciences; and new layers of “accountability” for scientists that threaten to politicize the allocation of grant funding. Research!America wrote to Committee leadership expressing concerns about these provisions. One positive feature of the bill is the inclusion of provisions to address the onerous administrative requirements that drain time and resources from federally funded science.

The second iteration of the 21st Century Cures legislation, a package of proposals aimed at boosting medical progress by modernizing the discovery, development, delivery continuum, was released April 29. Major changes include the addition of a $10 billion Innovation Fund to supplement annual NIH appropriations and the removal of provisions that would provide additional data exclusivity for certain new drugs and biologics. Research!America held an alliance member meeting on May 6 to discuss the modified legislation and consider opportunities for weighing in as the bill moves through the legislative process.

Action Alert

Now is the time for members of Congress to work together to strengthen the research and development (R&D) tax credit.

The R&D tax credit has played a pivotal role in the growth of our nation’s bioscience sector, the most sophisticated and productive in the world. Americans benefit enormously from the medical innovations produced in part because of the existence of the R&D tax credit.

Urge Congress to support legislation to enhance the tax credit and make it permanent.

Regular Features

President's Letter

272 words. That’s the length of the Gettysburg address, one of the most urgent and moving policy statements written by an American. Long before the age of Twitter, President Lincoln knew the importance of brevity and clarity. He also knew that science was critically important to a thriving society, which is why he chartered the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) in 1864, at the height of the Civil War; he had the capacity to lead on several fronts in spite of the extreme circumstances. I quote him often to remind advocates for research that making our case to the public is not optional. Lincoln said: “Public sentiment is everything. With public sentiment, nothing can fail; without it nothing can succeed.”

Accepting the 2015 Public Welfare Medal from the NAS at the end of last month [April 26], astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson reminded those present that the charter of the NAS embodies the concept of duty to serve, in his words, to provide “service to the government, to guide policy and lead the nation into the future.” Tyson went on to read his ‘response’ to the Gettysburg address, a 272-word handwritten statement he contributed to a volume of responses solicited from 100 Americans, leaders well known and citizens relatively unknown, drawn from across a wide range of fields. Tyson is the only writer who discusses the importance of science to our nation, now just as much as then. That only one in 100 commentators mention science underscores the work needed to significantly raise the profile and priority for science in the U.S. We should all use Tyson’s example to inspire our own advocacy! (My message here is 272 words; read more Gettysburg responses at Abraham Lincoln Library Foundation, 2015.)

Member Spotlight:The University of Colorado Denver | Anschutz Medical Campus

Founded: 2006
Location: Aurora, Colo.
Mission: To be a leading public university with a global reputation for excellence in learning, research and creativity, community engagement, and clinical care.
The University of Colorado Denver | Anschutz Medical Campus (UC Denver | AMC) is a diverse teaching and learning community that creates, discovers and applies knowledge to improve the health and well-being of Colorado and the world. The largest academic health center in the Rocky Mountain region, the campus combines interdisciplinary teaching, research and clinical facilities to prepare the region’s future health care professionals, provide the best available health care at two nationally recognized hospitals and be a national leader in life sciences research.

“Research is an absolute necessity if we are to improve the lives of our patients and make important contributions to cure diseases and understand better how to treat diseases in adults and children,” said Richard J. Traystman, Ph.D., Distinguished University Professor and vice chancellor for research at UC Denver | AMC, a leading public university with a global reputation for excellence in learning, research and creativity, community engagement and clinical care. The university medical campus consists of several professional schools: School of Medicine, School of Dental Medicine, College of Nursing, School of Pharmacy, School of Public Health and Graduate School. On the campus are the University Hospital, the Children’s Hospital of Colorado and the VA Hospital, to be completed in 2017. Medical research, both basic science and clinical, plays an important role in each of these facilities.

Across the street from the campus, Bioscience Park Center is home to about 25 incubator companies that interact with UC Denver | AMC. “Our institution values highly translational research, which is taking discoveries from the bench to the bedside in order to bring scientific discoveries to the patient,” Traystman said.

Translating discoveries to patients is a main advantage of the medical campus that includes research labs in several professional schools, hospitals and a biotech park with many companies developing treatments, drugs and medical devices, all working collaboratively for the good of the patient.

Traystman sees at least four major challenges facing the campus’ research enterprise: decreasing federal funding support, training and educating young scientists, ever-soaring healthcare costs and reimbursement issues in the United States, and translating research discoveries in a faster timeframe to benefit patients. Advocacy is a component of the campus’ efforts to address these challenges.

Researchers and others from the institution visit state and federal legislators, and the medical campus provides tours for lawmakers as well. UC Denver | AMC also actively participates in letter writing campaigns to legislators to demonstrate support for research.

“In order for our legislators to support an increased budget for research, we feel it is important to increase their knowledge and understanding about research and to inform them about which areas of research are hot at any given time,” Traystman said. “We also actively pursue having the results of our biomedical and health-related research appear in the media so we can better inform the public about the benefits of research to them.”

From an educational point of view, these strategies have proven very successful. 

“There is no doubt that the Colorado public, our local state legislators and our federal legislators are better informed concerning biomedical research as a result of our efforts,” Traystman said.

“The mission of Research!America to advocate for making research to improve health a national priority fits perfectly with our university’s mission,” Traystman said. “Research!America has made many important contributions to maintain the interest and visibility of medical and health care-related research at high levels nationally.

“The information distributed by Research!America in the form of publications, polling data, and advocacy alerts…allows us to follow-up on policy decisions of our government and to support information provided to the public sector concerning biomedical and health research,” he added.

Learn more at

From Washington

Senators Promote Research During University Visits

Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) called for greater federal investment in scientific and biomedical research during a visit to Northern Illinois University.

Durbin, Senate minority whip, discussed the American Cures Act and the American Innovation Act with NIU President Doug Baker, Ph.D., Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory Director Nigel Lockyer, Ph.D., and research professors and students, as part of an April 7 roundtable discussion. Around 40 other faculty members and administrators attended.

“The American Cures and Innovation Acts will make funding for critical science research projects less political and more predictable,” Durbin said. “They will allow America’s smartest scientists and researchers to spend less time figuring out how to cut their budgets and more time finding new ways to produce clean energy and clean water and other solutions that the world needs.”

During an April 20 visit to Washington University’s Alzheimer’s Research Center, Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS-Ed), said he wants to use his position to boost funding for research. Labor-HHS-Ed is the subcommittee that controls federal funding for the National Institutes of Health. The research center is part of the Washington University School of Medicine, a Research!America member.

Blunt told St. Louis Public Radio that increasing federal funding for Alzheimer’s research “is both going to be certainly one of my priorities, but I also think it will be [the NIH’s] priority as we move into the coming years.”

NIH Dedicates Weicker Building

The National Institutes of Health has recognized the contributions of former Connecticut Governor and former U.S. Senator Lowell Weicker to medical research with a building named in his honor. During a May 5 ceremony, federal agency officials and policymakers including NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D.; National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci, M.D.; former Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA); and Research!America President and CEO Mary Woolley joined Weicker for a building dedication that highlighted his achievements in helping to increase awareness and funding for NIH research to combat HIV/AIDS as the epidemic became a major public health threat.

Identifying and Showcasing States’ Research Strengths

America’s Knowledge Economy: A State by State Review, a report released in April by Elsevier, a Research!America member, and the Council of State Governments, analyzes the United States’ competitive edge in research led by academic and private sector institutions known as knowledge economies.

Using a variety of measures, including Scopus, Elsevier’s database of peer-reviewed research, the report evaluates states’ comparative advantages in research and how they can capitalize on them to drive innovation, attract jobs and foster economic growth. Case studies of North Carolina, New York and Arkansas are provided as examples of the information that is available for all states.

America’s Knowledge Economy gives state decision-makers a new, data-driven perspective on the strengths of their research institutions and on how researchers at those institutions are collaborating nationally and internationally. State decision-makers can use the report to identify and showcase their research strengths, better direct investments, and tie those strengths to economic development outcomes. Learn more and download the report at .

Senators Push for Funds to Combat Rx Drug Abuse

Sixteen senators are urging the Senate Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies to support increased funding for prescription drug and opioid abuse prevention, treatment and research programs.

In a letter sent to committee leadership, they asked Chairman Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-Wash.) to support President Obama’s request for more funding for work through the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and the National Institutes of Health.

“Medical research plays an important role in reducing prescription drug abuse through discovery of alternative approaches to pain management that pose less risk for dependency or addiction,” the senators wrote.

Those signing the letter were senators Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Angus King, Jr. (I-Maine), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn).

Biotech Leaders to Meet in Philly

More than 15,000 leaders from the biopharmaceutical industry will meet in Philadelphia June 15-18 for the 2015 BIO International Convention. Television journalist and author Tom Brokaw and Scripps Translational Service Institute Director Eric Topol, M.D., are among the keynote speakers.

The convention, the largest global event for biotechnology, draws scientists, investors and exhibitors representing 70 countries. The gathering is a unique opportunity to forge new business partnerships, network and learn about major trends affecting the industry. Super Sessions will focus on wide-ranging issues including ensuring patient access to innovative medicines, investment incentives to combat antimicrobial resistance, new regulatory pathways, and the 21st Century Cures initiative.

Research!America will distribute relevant information about the impact of U.S. policies on medical innovation as a participant in the Patient Advocacy Pavilion at the convention.

FDA Fast-Tracks Device Reviews

The Food & Drug Administration has launched its Expedited Access Pathway program (EAP), which will shorten the up-front review process for some medical devices for life-threatening conditions. The program, which began April 15, is for device makers seeking to bring products to market, particularly products for unmet medical needs.

Janet Trunzo, senior executive vice president at AdvaMed, a medical technology trade group and Research!America member, was quoted in CQ Healthbeat about the program. “As part of its Innovation Agenda, AdvaMed has proposed a new breakthrough pathway which builds upon FDA’s EAP and would provide for transitional Medicare and Medicaid coverage for products designated and approved by FDA as ‘breakthrough,’” she said.

The agency released two guidance documents explaining the criteria for expedited status and the data collection process companies must follow. The documents will be reviewed annually for the next three years and updated as necessary. More information can be found at

In the News

Media Matters

21st Century Cures Draft Bill

Research!America issued a statement following the release of the 21st Century Cures draft bill that establishes a $10 billion NIH Innovation Fund, was featured in CQ Healthbeat, MedPage Today, Modern Healthcare, Washington Examiner and Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News. “These additional dollars can empower NIH to sustain and embark on innovative studies that could reduce the prevalence and impact of costly and disabling conditions that continue to threaten individual and population health, our economic security, and global competitiveness,” said Research!America President and CEO Mary Woolley.

Medical Device Tax Debate

In an op-ed authored by Ellie Dehoney, vice president of policy and advocacy at Research!America, on the GE IdeaLab blog, she argues that the medical device tax reduces the potential return on investment in medical device research and development. “What it boils down to is this: If we, as a nation, value medical progress, we should not impose an excise tax on it,” she wrote.

Precision Medicine

Keith R. Yamamoto, Ph.D., Research!America board member and executive vice dean of the school of medicine at University of California, San Francisco, was quoted in a Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News article about the California initiative to advance precision medicine.


Cancer Research Progress

John Seffrin, chief executive officer of the American Cancer Society and Research!America emeritus director, wrote an op-ed for The Huffington Post highlighting the progress of cancer research and underscored the need to support public policies at the federal, state and local levels that aid patients with the disease. “With continued scientific discovery, ongoing efforts to enact cancer control policies and collaboration among key stakeholders in the public and private sectors, we can make this century cancer's last,” he wrote.

Violence and Public Health

Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign and Center to Prevent Gun Violence, and co-founder of the Center to Prevent Youth Violence, and Georges C. Benjamin, M.D., executive director of the American Public Health Association and Research!America board member, co-wrote an op-ed for The Hill about a new coalition of public health professionals that will address gun deaths and injuries as significant public health problems.


Communicating Effectively to Non-Scientists

Research!America and George Washington University co-hosted “Connecting the Dots: Effectively Communicating Science to Non-Scientists,” a two-day science communication workshop at GWU on April 13 and 14 (see page 1). In an article on, Elizabeth Good Christopherson, president and chief executive officer of the foundation, said “By providing scientists with better tools to communicate their work, we seek to promote greater appreciation of the importance of scientific research.”  The Rita Allen Foundation and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation were the program underwriters.

Research Saves Lives

Claire Pomeroy, M.D., president of the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation, penned an op-ed in The Huffington Post about the connection between declining federal investments in research and the impact on young scientists and medical progress. “Government, private enterprise and philanthropic investment in biomedical research is critical if we hope to benefit from the paradigm-shifting breakthroughs that could be made by today's young researchers,” she wrote.

Special Thanks to our Principal Partners and to Renewing Research!America Alliance Members

RESEARCH!AMERICA EXTENDS SPECIAL THANKS TO OUR supporters who have contributed since the publication of our april newsletter.

Visit for ways to support Research!America 



Grand Reception Host:

Milken Institute



American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy

Genentech, Inc.

The Rockefeller University



American Association for Cancer Research


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Alzheimer’s Association


American College of Sports Medicine


American Psychiatric Association


American Society for Cell Biology


Association for Psychological Science


The Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology


Association for Women in Science


Association of Medical School Microbiology and Immunology Chairs


Astellas Pharma US, Inc.


Duke University School of Nursing


Emory University Rollins School of Public Health


Emory Woodruff Health Sciences Research- School of Medicine and Yerkes Primate Center


Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University


Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center


The George Washington University




Harvard University School of Dental Medicine


Indiana University School of Nursing


Kent State University


Kidney Cancer Association


Mayo Clinic


Medical University of South Carolina


Merck & Co., Inc.


National Health Council


New Jersey Association for Biomedical Research


Oral Health America


Parkinson’s Action Network


Parkinson’s Disease Foundation


The Rockefeller University


South Alabama Medical Science Foundation


Spectrum Science Communications


Stanford University School of Medicine


Takeda Pharmaceuticals U.S.A., Inc.


University of Alabama at Birmingham


University of California, Berkeley


University of Kansas Medical Center School of Nursing


University of Michigan


Vanderbilt University Medical Center


WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease


Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber


Media Contacts

Suzanne Ffolkes
VP Communications

Anna Briseño
Communications Manager

Luck shouldn't play a role in why I'm alive.
Laurie MacCaskill, a seven-year pancreatic cancer survivor