Mary Woolley

“June Gloom” is what the residents of Los Angeles call this past month’s weather.  I was in California last week at the invitation of UC Riverside, which has, in addition to a robust portfolio of federally funded research, an inspiring commitment to the community.  For the record, it wasn’t gloomy in Riverside, but then, the LA area is vast, and the overcast is closer to the ocean. There is a decent parallel here to the vastness of the landscape for support of research in Washington:  the House passed two “minibus” appropriations packages this month that include significant increases for federal agencies that support research. This week we issued a statement about the passage of the second minibus, which includes funding increases for the FDA and NSF. While the FDA number ($3.26B, an $180M increase) is a step in the right direction, we are working to ensure the Senate goes with the Administration’s higher request of $3.33B.

At our recent jam-packed Alliance Member Meeting we heard from Grace Graham, Health Policy Director for Senate HELP Committee Chairman Alexander (R-TN), and Andi Fristedt, Deputy Health Policy Director for Ranking Member Murray (D-WA). 

Today, the House Commerce, Justice, and Science(CJS) Appropriations Subcommittee released its Fiscal Year 2020 funding bill, which they will consider tomorrow. The good news is that the bill contains the largest increase in funding for the National Science Foundation (NSF) in several years; the bad news is we can’t get there from here unless we #RaisetheCaps.


Dear Research Advocate,

Dear Research Advocate,

Dear Research Advocate:

Yesterday, the House Budget Committee approved (on a party-line vote, 19-17) legislation that would raise the fiscal year 2020 (FY20) non-defense discretionary (NDD) spending cap by $631 billion, a 5.7 percent increase over the 2019 cap, and raise the defense cap by $664 billion, a 2.6 percent increase. The House is expected to consider the legislation on the floor early next week.

The fact that legislation to raise the caps is being considered signals important progress. Our science-focused Raise the Caps campaign and other individual and collaborative advocacy efforts like that of NDD United are pushing hard for action, because -- as Senate Appropriations Chair, Richard Shelby (R- AL) warned earlier this week -- failing to act now puts us on the path to “stopgaps” (keep in mind that because of the budget caps, stopgap measures come with deep, across-the-board cuts!)

Dear Research Advocate:

Yesterday was the first day of spring and with it comes the hustle and bustle of appropriations season. Rumor has it House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-NY) plans to begin marking up fiscal year (FY) 2020 legislation as soon as late April with a Defense/Labor-HHS mini package among the first bills. 

This week has been rife with chilling public health news. You may have seen the widely-covered announcement that life expectancy in the United States has once again dropped, driven for a third year in a row by opioid (including fentanyl) abuse, a surge in suicide, especially in rural areas, and a spike in flu deaths. 

Earlier this week I had the privilege of meeting with and addressing faculty and students at Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences and at Rutgers University. During both trips, it was truly energizing...

World-class athletes are getting ready to go for the gold in Rio.  No one is going for copper, but researchers have found that in healthcare settings, this mineral is a champion when it comes to reducing the spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria (one of several public health threats that has received attention in the run-up to the Games). If you are looking for an example of the return on research, this article about the role of copper in reducing hospital associated infections provides an excellent one. Years of investment in research, from discovery science through to trials, can and will pay off for the public with every expectation of many more lives saved in years ahead. 


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