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Over the course of his last few weeks before retiring, Speaker Boehner worked with fellow House and Senate leaders and the President to fashion a budget deal that increases the nation’s debt limit and provides an additional $80 billion above sequestration-level spending caps. Both non-defense and defense programs will receive $25 billion more in fiscal year 2016 (FY16) and $15 billion more in FY 2017. The House has passed this budget plan, and the Senate is expected to follow suit by Tuesday. See our statement . Passing this deal is step one. Step two is allocating top-line budget numbers across the 12 appropriations subcommittees (these allocations are known as “302(b)s”). This will likely...
Dear Research Advocate, The Nobel prize winners announced this week showcase the role of both private sector (William Campbell’s work at Merck) and federal funding (Paul Modrich’s and Aziz Sancar's NIH and NSF grants) in driving scientific progress, and more broadly, the profound return science delivers to our nation and the world. Read our statements on the winners . The next few weeks are crucial for science funding and policies. Congressional leadership is working with the President to arrive at a budget deal that lifts the sequester caps, allowing for increases in NIH and other research agencies. If a deal lifting the caps is not made before Speaker Boehner retires, the new speaker (...
Dear Research Advocate: Pope Francis’ visit to Washington has been a breath of fresh air, but now Congress must get to work and reach a funding agreement that avoids a government shutdown beginning October 1st. Didn’t we learn from the last shutdown, just two years ago? Young patients were turned away from clinical trials at NIH. Disease outbreaks were not monitored because CDC epidemiologists were furloughed. Drugs, devices and other medical products pending FDA approval were delayed. All of this -- and much, much more -- was then and is now, entirely avoidable. Advocates should not be complacent; a government shutdown screams “broken government,” and should not even be on the table...
Dear Research Advocate, It was a privilege to address the terrific crowd at last night’s kick off reception for the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Rally for Medical Research. Forceful champions including Senators Durbin (D-IL), Moran (R-KS), Murray (D-WA) and Klobuchar (D-MN) joined NIH Director Francis Collins to thank and encourage the more than 300 advocates who are blanketing both Houses of Congress today. Adding in social media attention, the Rally is likely to reach every member of Congress. During remarks at a Rally breakfast this morning, House “Labor-H” Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Tom Cole (R-OK-04) revved up the crowd when he said that “the stars are...
Dear Research Advocate: There is a flurry of activity in Washington. Not only has the Supreme Court ruled on King v. Burwell , but the House and Senate Appropriations Committees have wrapped up consideration of their respective “Labor-H” appropriations bills, regular order we haven't seen for six years. The implications of the Supreme Court ruling are far-reaching, but one political effect could be a return to partisan gridlock in Congress. We can't let that get in the way of passage of 21st Century Cures Act. Please contact your representative in the House and ask them to champion 21st Century Cures. Whether or not they are among the 206 (!) bipartisan cosponsors to date, the more noise we...
Dear Research Advocate: After years of attending to other priorities and taking an “on cruise-control” approach to science, Congress has turned the corner with enthusiasm and determination! Clay Alspach and Tim Pataki from Energy and Commerce Chairman Upton’s staff joined Research!America members on Tuesday to discuss 21st Century Cures. They asked us to help assure a robust and bipartisan list of cosponsors for the bill. Please take a moment to ask your representative to sign-on, or thank him or her for cosponsoring. Please also consider joining one, two or all three of these sign-on letters: UMR , Ad Hoc , NHC . We have final figures for the joint online survey by The Science Advisory...
The serendipitous discovery of penicillin by Alexander Fleming in 1928 transformed the course of modern medicine. Penicillin, followed by a series of other antibiotics, seemed to promise a world free of infectious diseases that once killed millions of people worldwide. Medical breakthroughs such as organ transplants and chemotherapy would not have been possible without the development of antimicrobials. Fleming warned, however, that microbes have the ability to, and inevitably will, develop resistance to antibiotics. It did not take long to prove him right, with drug-resistant strains appearing just within years after the introduction of penicillin, as was the case for many subsequent...
The House Energy and Commerce Health subcommittee considered the next draft of the 21st Century Cures legislation this morning. New to the draft - demonstrating that advocacy works - is the addition of language calling for $10 billion for NIH in mandatory funding over five years. This so-called ‘innovation fund’ is currently earmarked for precision medicine, young investigator awards, and an “other” category, yet to be specified. Please take a moment today to thank Reps. Fred Upton (R-MI-06), Diana DeGette (D-CO-01), Frank Pallone (D-NJ-06), Joe Pitts (R-PA-16) and Gene Green (D-TX-29) for championing this landmark provision. This bill is not a finished product, and our statement (here)...
Dear Research Advocate: Was it the luck of the Irish that brought together a remarkable lineup of celebrities, members of Congress, advocates, researchers and patients for a stunning showcase of advocacy for cancer research? No luck needed. It would be difficult to identify a goal more compelling than conquering a constellation of diseases that cause more than 589,000 deaths in the U.S. each year. On Tuesday, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, Stand Up to Cancer, ACT for NIH and Merck launched the One Degree campaign . This initiative, which reminds us that we are all just one degree away from cancer and other devastating diseases, aims to increase research funding at NIH by...
Today, Research!America urged the 114th Congress to take action on five science priorities in the first 100 days of the legislative session in order to elevate research and innovation on the nation’s agenda: Advance the 21st Century Cures Initiative. Spearheaded by Representatives Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Diana DeGette (D-Colo.),the initiative is a promising step in the right direction, focusing on speeding medical progress from bench-to-bedside by integrating patient perspectives into the regulatory process, modernizing clinical trials, and reducing red tape, among other things. Repeal the medical device tax. A provision in the Affordable Care Act, efforts to repeal the medical device tax...

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Without continued support for health research, many of the most promising young scientists, their ideas and a myriad of potentially life-changing scientific breakthroughs will vanish into oblivion.
Paul Marinec, PhD; University of California San Francisco