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Dear Research Advocate: News this week from researchers in Brazil on hearing loss in infants born to mothers who have been infected with the Zika virus underscores the reality that we are far from seeing light at the end of this public health crisis tunnel. CDC Director Tom Frieden and NIAID Director Tony Fauci wrote on the perils of “robbing Peter to pay Paul” in funding the nation’s response to Zika in yesterday’s Washington Post . We are fortunate to be welcoming both of these leaders to our National Health Research Forum next week, so will have an in-the-moment update. Some 76% of Americans now say Congress should make passing the emergency Zika response an important priority when they...
Dear Research Advocate: 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...
Dear Research Advocate: Today, the House Labor-HHS appropriations subcommittee marked up its FY17 funding bill, which includes funding for NIH, CDC and AHRQ. NIH received a $1.25 billion increase, $750 million less than the Senate increase. Given the subcommittee’s overall budget allocation ($569 million below fiscal year 2016) and the more conservative funding climate in the House, this is still an extraordinarily positive outcome. At the markup, Chairman Tom Cole (R-OK-04) noted that the $1.25 billion increase set a floor - rather than a ceiling - for NIH funding in FY17, a positive sign for potential negotiations with the Senate later in the process. The House Labor-HHS bill proposes a...
Dear Research Advocate: If you’ve read Ron Chernow’s “Hamilton,” you know that the partisan stand-off we are witnessing in the House, and more broadly across the nation, is not new. Chernow reminds us that political parties -- not originally foreseen by the Founding Fathers -- grew out of intense and often ugly disagreements between Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson during the second administration of George Washington. That insight doesn’t make this week’s turn of events less dramatic, but it does offer perspective. In the midst of the Democratic sit-in on preventing gun violence, the House adjourned earlier than expected and won’t resume business until July 5. Just before adjourning...
Dear Research Advocate: The news from the CDC this week is concerning. For the first time in over a decade the overall, all-cause mortality rate for the U.S. is higher than in the preceding year. This unexpected news comes on the heels of last week’s announcement confirming the first U.S. case of an E. coli infection resistant to colistin, a last-resort antibiotic, reminding us of just how important it is to curtail and outpace antimicrobial resistance. And we have word of the second baby born in the U.S. with microcephaly due to Zika, as well as a new estimate that 300 pregnant women in the U.S. have the virus. On their own, each of these stories should serve as a wake-up call for...
Alzheimer’s disease is the 6 th leading cause of death in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, affecting 11% of the population 65 years and older. Without a treatment or prevention breakthrough, studies estimate there could be as many as 13.5 million Americans living with the disease by 2050 with associated health care costs rising above $1 trillion. However, the research has progressed, as scientists unlock and unveil the secrets of the brain. Recently, scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have shown that measures of the tau protein are better markers of the cognitive decline of Alzheimer's than measures of amyloid beta...
Dear Research Advocate: The CDC has concluded that a causal relationship exists between the Zika virus and microcephaly. Earlier this week, Congress passed a law providing incentives for private sector development of Zika vaccines and treatments. But responding to threats like Zika is a resource-intensive, multi-pronged process. We are working with the March of Dimes and other partners to fight for emergency funding. Interested in joining this effort? Let me know! The Senate Appropriations Committee has parsed the overall FY17 discretionary budget into “302(b)” allocations for its various subcommittees. Given that the topline numbers are virtually flat, it is not particularly surprising...
President Obama’s decree proclaiming April 4 – 10 National Public Health Week focuses on several key objective: stemming the tide of infectious disease like Zika; improving access to healthcare domestically and globally; promoting healthy behaviors in adolescents; preventing opioid and illicit drug abuse; decreasing gun violence; addressing climate change-related health issues; and improving access to mental health resources. National Public Health week is an opportunity to reflect on the pivotal role public health research and practice play in advancing the wellbeing of Americans and populations across the globe, and recognize the individuals, organizations and agencies that carry out...
Dear Research Advocate: As task force meetings for Vice President Biden’s “moonshot” initiative began this week, a new public opinion survey commissioned by Research!America showed that 50% of Americans favor a tax increase to fund cancer research. While this manner of funding the moonshot is not currently on the table, the survey finding underscores the high priority Americans place on curing cancer. The President told Majority Leader McConnell and Speaker Ryan that assuring resources for research, cancer in particular, is one of his five priorities for working across the aisle this year. His FY17 budget proposal -- scheduled for release next Tuesday -- will reportedly request additional...
This was an exceptional year for publicly-funded research projects. Investments in science led to a greater understanding of preventing and treating disease such as using genetic variants to identify people at risk for coronary heart disease and tailoring breast cancer treatments to avoid the need for chemotherapy. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) also supported the work of three Nobel Prize winners and clinical advances in cancer, heart disease, MS and many other conditions. The National Science Foundation (NSF) funded interdisciplinary projects including one that led to a holistic approach to strengthening the security and effectiveness of mobile medical applications . Evidence-...

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