Mary Woolley

Dear Research Advocate, Supplemental Funding Needs, Part 1 : President-elect Biden has indicated he will seek bipartisan support for a supplemental funding measure to address the urgent and ever-evolving needs created by this vicious and ongoing pandemic. Research!America has sent a letter to the President-elect with several supplemental funding requests, and we will follow up with a letter to Congressional leadership. Earlier this week we held an alliance member meeting with NIH Principal Deputy Director Dr. Larry Tabak and Deputy Director for Extramural Research Dr. Michael Lauer ( recording here ). Every minute of this meeting provided vital information on how the agency is struggling to...
Dear Research Advocate, Leadership Required : For so many of us, the events of the last 24 hours are difficult to fully comprehend. Our nation has experienced a profound shock to our democracy. The tragic overlay to this tumultuous time is that our nation faces an enemy that thrives on the very distrust, turmoil, and political gridlock we have been witnessing. COVID-19 has now killed more than 360,000 Americans — more lives lost in just ten months than the entire population of 99.7% of the cities and towns in this nation. In addition to assuring the peaceful transition of power to a new Administration, federal, state, and local lawmakers, and leaders from all sectors, can — and they must —...
Dear Research Advocate, Earlier this week, Congress passed a long-awaited legislative package containing FY21 funding and COVID-19 emergency dollars. However, President Trump has publicly criticized the bill and of this writing, it’s unclear whether he will sign it or seek changes. The current Continuing Resolution keeping the federal government open expires on December 28, 2020. Needless to say, we are closely monitoring the situation. Let’s look at the bill Congress approved: For FY21, it contains increases over the prior year of over $1 billion for NIH, $200 million for NSF, $125 million for the CDC, and $42 million for the FDA. Unfortunately, the Agency for Healthcare Research and...
Dear Research Advocate, This Thanksgiving will be challenging – there is no way around it – but giving thanks right now is especially appropriate. Medical and public health personnel, academic and industry researchers, and a plethora of other COVID-19 responders have put the interests of the public ahead of their own, working in high-risk settings, 24-7, to navigate an end to this brutal pandemic. And end it, we will. To help speed the day, elected officials must do their part. Unfinished Business: Unfortunately, we cannot yet thank federal policymakers for meeting two COVID-19-related imperatives: completing the FY21 appropriations process to unstick government functions basic to the...
Dear Research Advocate, On (but mostly off) Capitol Hill : Neither the House nor Senate is expected to reconvene until after Labor Day. As things stand, it may be late September before a final COVID-19 emergency spending package takes shape. The longer the delay on that front, the greater the chances that a continuing resolution (CR) will be attached, flat-funding the government until after (potentially long after) the November elections. Sound the Alarm : If this no-action update sounds all-too-familiar, that’s because it is. The push and pull of differing funding priorities and election-year politics are fogging the lens such that the most important consideration – the crying need for...
Dear Research Advocate, Phase 3 enrollment is now underway for a number of COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials. That science has moved so quickly from first identification of the virus to Phase 3 trials, speaks to remarkable public-private sector collaboration. It also speaks to the absolute necessity of taxpayer investment in basic, discovery science over many years; a lesson we must not ignore as we plan responses to the pandemics that will surely follow. To help move the massive trial enrollment process along, NIH has launched the COVID-19 Prevention Trials Network (COVPN), merging networks already funded by NIAID for HIV and other infectious disease trials. Each of the Phase 3 clinical...
Dear Research Advocate, Fourth of July, typically a day to unwind and celebrate, comes to us this year at a fraught time in our fight against a deadly pandemic. Evidence-based public health practices to mitigate the virus’s spread have been too often politicized and unheeded, leading to adherence gaps by some that place many others at risk. Cautious optimism from public health experts that we were on a path to containing the virus is being overtaken by alarm. Public health officials in communities across the country are being physically threatened while laboring under poorly-resourced conditions. An important time to hear from Dr. Tom Frieden, former CDC Director and current President and...
Dear Research Advocate, Mentioned here last week and the focus of an alliance member webinar earlier this week, the President issued an executive order (EO) extending and imposing new restrictions on worker and student visas. Our statement expresses opposition . Let’s face it — this EO essentially forces our nation to shoot itself in the foot. Bernat Navarro-Serer of the Johns Hopkins Science Policy Group (and a Research!America 2019 student microgrant recipient ) makes the case for sustaining our nation’s long-standing student visa programs . From the article: “ ...a suspension on work visas sends a strong message to current and future students seeking an education in the United States:...
Dear Research Advocate, Our nation’s research enterprise – and thus our society – has long benefitted mightily from the contributions of foreign-born scientists and engineers. In fact, nearly a third of the STEM workforce is foreign-born . A series of immigration-related actions by the executive branch, some already taken and others considered imminent, imperil academic, industry, and independent research across the country with consequences for our economy, our health, and our well-being. We are hosting an alliance member meeting on the state of play and advocacy opportunities next Monday, June 22 at 2 p.m. ET. Alliance members can register here . On Capitol Hill : Recent reports are that...
Dear Research Advocate, You may have paused yesterday in solidarity with the young scientists who galvanized the #ShutDownSTEM movement to listen and reflect on your personal and your organization’s role in ending racism; I did. The very first research project I was involved in worked hard to recruit its study volunteers from a diverse community; we were only modestly successful. That was more than 40 years ago; ensuring diversity in clinical trials is still a major obstacle. Overcoming health disparities is a related challenge, one that calls for — no, demands — far greater attention. Witness COVID-19. We may not know all the factors that are causing dramatically disproportionate harm to...

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Luck shouldn't play a role in why I'm alive.
Laurie MacCaskill, a seven-year pancreatic cancer survivor