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Dear Research Advocate: At our post-election briefing this morning at AAAS in Washington, DC, the discussion focused on opportunities for advocacy given the composition and characteristics of the new Congress, and the importance of building new champions from among the nearly 100 new members of Congress. Of note — at last count, there are seven science-trained new members, a very welcome development! There is no doubt that a divided Congress can cause gridlock, but inaction is not a foregone conclusion, as was emphasized by our Chair, the Hon. Michael N. Castle. There are important, science-relevant issues, such as infrastructure, STEM education, and the opioid crisis, that both parties...
Dear Research Advocate: Earlier today, Rob Smith and Kim Monk of Capital Alpha Partners, and Pete Kirkham of Red Maple Consulting joined Research!America alliance members to discuss the near and mid-term outlook for congressional action on drug pricing, the state of play on appropriations, and other research-relevant issues. Although our speakers noted that much can change in the final week before the election, there were several key takeaways. First, it’s safe to say that the uncertainties surrounding the election and the ongoing interest (both in Congress and the White House) in addressing rising healthcare costs means that drug pricing and issues related to the supply chain more...
To Americans, there are few things more terrifying than going blind . Glaucoma is a particularly scary vision-stealing disease because without screening it offers no warning to those it strikes, causing significant, irreversible vision loss before a patient notices something is wrong. But in January, in honor of Glaucoma Awareness Month, the vision-research community reflects on the past year’s progress toward managing this challenging disease. As with all diseases, progress is dependent on research. First, it looks into understanding what causes the condition, and then into therapies that prevent, treat or cure it. Glaucoma research, spanning decades, has successfully identified what...
Research into the development of Ebola vaccines, efforts to address opioid use among women, infectious diseases and a record number of novel drug approvals are among the many examples of federal health agencies making tremendous strides in 2017 to address complex and deadly health threats. The agencies highlighted their achievements in year-end articles, videos and reports on their websites. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) described progress with two Ebola vaccines and a bionic pancreas to better treat type 1 diabetes in addition to other clinical advances. The NIH also supported the work of three recipients of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine and one recipient of the Nobel...
Dear Research Advocate: In considering resolutions for the coming year, I am reminded that resolution connotes action . I am optimistic that 2018 will be a year of action, a year in which research and innovation amp up our economy, even as they lead to better health and quality of life. Congress will respond to advocates if we all take action and amp up our efforts — it’s an election year, after all! Love it or loathe it, tax reform has set the stage for additional action to drive the economy. In addition to passing a bipartisan budget deal that lifts spending caps for both defense and non-defense discretionary funding, and repealing or suspending the medical device tax, Congress and the...
"My doctor just told me I have lung cancer… What do I do?" This is a familiar line for anyone who has spoken with a patient on Lung Cancer Alliance’s HelpLine . With a historically low survival rate and a significant stigma due to the misguided belief that it is only a “smoker’s disease,” lung cancer flies under the radar. However, no one deserves to die from any cancer, and most people don’t know that lung cancer is the number one cancer killer that will claim an estimated 160,000 lives in the U.S. this year alone. Fortunately, thanks to the power of research, the tide is turning in the fight against this disease and there's an entirely different story to tell this November during Lung...
Let’s start with this: think of each person’s cancer as a unique locked door. Now imagine that with a simple test, we could find the right key to unlock that door and cure the cancer on the first try. This is the world of precision medicine, an emerging area of research that the Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF) feels is the mechanism for finally unlocking the cancer problem. So what does this mean for patients? Consider Mark Meerschaert’s experience. In a matter of weeks, Mark went from being an active on-the-go professor to someone who could barely walk; metastatic prostate cancer had come from nowhere and spread throughout his body. As a respected mathematics professor and researcher,...
Dear Research Advocate: Earlier this week, I met the new dean of the Duke Medical School, Dr. Mary Klotman. She invited me to talk with young MD-PhD investigators who are part of Duke’s Robert Lefkowitz (A Nobel Laureate) Society. It is extremely powerful to be in a room with so much talent, commitment and promise; I encouraged these accomplished young leaders to look for ways to convey their passion for research outside academia, and offered to help. Young scientists’ innovation and energy are vital, not only to science but to science advocacy. The distinction a ‘laureate’ conveys is inspiring to scientists and non-scientists alike. In recognition of that, Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and...
Dear Research Advocate, I was honored to speak yesterday to a group of early-career global health researchers, plus alums and mentors, gathered for orientation and training under the auspices of NIH’s Fogarty International Center. Following my prepared remarks we had a terrific informal discussion. A question from a researcher who had grown up in Kentucky triggered a thoughtful exchange: “how do I explain the value of my work to a resident of rural Kentucky, including why her taxes should pay for it?” These two linked but separate questions can seem quite daunting if, like most researchers, you have never been oriented, much less trained, to consider the public context of research. We’re...
Dear Research Advocate, Former Congressman John Porter, Research!America’s esteemed Chair Emeritus, does not mince words in his Washington Post LTE today, cautioning against state-level education policies that could be misused to subvert science education. Treating knowledge that has been affirmed by years of scientific exploration as negotiable jeopardizes our nation’s ability to meet the challenges and seize the opportunities before us. It is a path to decline rather than progress. We cannot afford to shy away from straight talk about misguided policies. Fortunately for our nation, John never does. This afternoon, the House Labor-H Subcommittee, formerly chaired by Mr. Porter, “marked up...

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America’s economic destiny lies in innovation, technology, science and research.
The Honorable John E. Porter