Mary Woolley Weekly Advocacy Messages

I am pleased to repeat myself when I report that it’s been another science-heavy week on Capitol Hill...and most, but not all, of the news is good.

The House Energy and Commerce Health subcommittee considered the next draft of the 21st Century Cures legislation this morning. 

As the COVID-19 pandemic persists, it continues to pose new challenges and questions, including for the research community. A top priority is to better understand Long COVID. A CDC study released this week, “Post–COVID Conditions Among Adult COVID-19 Survivors,” found approximately 1 in 5 adult COVID-19 survivors “have a health condition that might be related to previous COVID-19 illness.“ The study covered cases from the beginning of the pandemic through November 2021, right before the Omicron wave.

Securing a meaningful increase for NIH as well as boosted funding for CDC, AHRQ, and other key health agencies pivots on the amount of overall funding the subcommittee receives when total FY23 appropriations are allocated across all 12 appropriations subcommittees. 

As we mourn the million-death milestone in the U.S. for the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s challenging to conceptualize the toll. Both Axios and Politico have published excellent graphics to help put the horrifying number in context. But we’re not done yet. Nor can we ignore the soaring increase in overdose deaths just reported by CDC. And more concerns are in the mix as well.

In an opinion piece in The Hill yesterday, Research!America Board Member Sudip Parikh, PhD, CEO of AAAS, and Gary K. Michelson, MD, founder and co-chair of Michelson Philanthropies, stress the importance of federal investment in science, noting how federally supported innovations have produced tremendous return on investment and, along with private-sector innovation, have kept America at the forefront of science and technology

We suspected then — and now know for sure — that large majorities of the public want to hear from scientists. In our January 2022 national survey, 8 in 10 respondents, regardless of political party affiliation, said scientists' jobs should include communicating their research to the public.

We hosted our Annual Meeting of Members this afternoon, pausing to reflect on our work together over the last year and looking ahead. (Watch the recording.) One meeting highlight was Sjögren’s Foundation CEO Janet Church’s powerful recounting of the challenges she and others with Sjögren’s syndrome face. 

Today is day 50 since Russia invaded Ukraine, initiating a deplorable, heartbreaking conflict, foremost so for the Ukrainian people. Today we reflect on the repercussions for scientists in both countries as well as the implications of the radical disruption of international research collaboration.

Today is World Health Day; it’s National Public Health Week; and National Minority Health Month as well – calling attention to how we are connected to each other. The COVID-19 pandemic has made the persistence of domestic and global health disparities more apparent; it is time to act! 

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