Mary Woolley

Dear Research Advocate, Congress is officially out of session this week, but because negotiations to determine whether budget caps are raised are continuing, advocacy must continue as well. More than fifty organizations signed on to an AAAS-led letter to Congressional leaders asking them to prioritize federal research investments, raise the budget caps, and provide sustainable and robust investments for scientific research in Fiscal Year 2020. Now it’s time for more individual hands on this deck. Sign the Raise the Caps petition here . One of the concerns Members of Congress are likely hearing about back home is a disease once declared eliminated -- measles. More than 500 cases have been...
Dear Research Advocate, This letter is my 400th, having started this journey in July 2011. Over the years I have received a wealth of high-content feedback, including strong disagreement from time to time. Our exchanges have helped refine Research!America’s advocacy and heighten our impact. It has been, and continues to be, a true privilege to share and discuss advocacy and public engagement topics with you over the years. Thank you for the opportunity!! Ironically, my first weekly letter in July 2011 concerned the threat posed by the possible passage of the Budget Control Act (BCA), the same law that set in motion a dramatic across-the-board budget cut and set up nearly a decade’s worth of...
Dear Research Advocate: Yesterday, the House Budget Committee approved (on a party-line vote, 19-17) legislation that would raise the fiscal year 2020 (FY20) non-defense discretionary (NDD) spending cap by $631 billion, a 5.7 percent increase over the 2019 cap, and raise the defense cap by $664 billion, a 2.6 percent increase. The House is expected to consider the legislation on the floor early next week. The fact that legislation to raise the caps is being considered signals important progress. Our science-focused Raise the Caps campaign and other individual and collaborative advocacy efforts like that of NDD United are pushing hard for action, because -- as Senate Appropriations Chair,...
Dear Research Advocate: Speaking recently to the “New Voices” group at the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine, as well as to young scientists during a visit to the University of Miami, I was energized by the passion, determination and commitment they all have for engaging the public. I discussed highlights of the survey findings we feature in Research!America’s new poll data summary A new survey question probes awareness and support for engagement of scientists in the policy making process. Other survey highlights include trend data that might surprise you — like the 10% increase since 2015 in those who say they would be willing to pay more in taxes if the money went to...
Dear Research Advocate: Yesterday was the first day of spring and with it comes the hustle and bustle of appropriations season. Rumor has it House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-NY) plans to begin marking up fiscal year (FY) 2020 legislation as soon as late April with a Defense/Labor-HHS mini package among the first bills. It is therefore urgent we make the case now, with one voice, for strong FY20 research funding. Deadlines are close: Members of Congress must submit their individual requests to the House Labor, Health and Human Services, Education (Labor-H) Subcommittee by March 28, the Agriculture, FDA Subcommittee by April 4, and to the Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS)...
Dear Research Advocate: First, thank you! It was so meaningful to celebrate our 30th anniversary with so many of you at our annual meeting and advocacy awards dinner yesterday. It is difficult to do the day justice or fully express my gratitude for it. Check our website next week for a livestream of the annual meeting, which featured Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Admiral Brett Giroir; NIH National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) Director Dr. Gary Gibbons; a candid discussion between Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) President Emerita, Dr. Susan Hockfield and Seema Kumar of Johnson & Johnson; and the heartfelt story of cystic fibrosis patient...
Dear Research Advocate: A Senate HELP Committee hearing this week examined what is driving preventable disease outbreaks. A key issue of discussion – as observed in our 2018 survey data – is growing public suspicion about the benefit of vaccines. The hearing also focused on the need for a robust public health infrastructure that can prevent public health threats. In a New York Times op-ed published yesterday, Admiral Brett Giroir, Assistant Secretary of HHS, Dr. Robert Redfield, Director of CDC, and Vice Admiral Jerome Adams, U.S. Surgeon General, noted that vaccines have proven so successful that many clinicians and parents may not realize the seriousness of diseases – such as measles –...
Dear Research Advocate: It is disappointing but not, sad to say, surprising that the FY20 budget process is starting off on shaky ground. Several reports this week reinforce what the president has previously asserted: his budget proposal will feature a 5% cut in non-defense spending. That’s likely not the worst of it. If that across-the board cut sits on top of the $55 billion overall reduction in non-defense discretionary spending required by the return of “sequestration” (shorthand for austerity level budget caps), the president may be proposing cuts of 15% or more to some, if not most, federal science agencies. (It is important to emphasize that the president’s budget amounts to a...
Dear Research Advocate: Dr. Kelvin Droegemeier, the Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, gave his first public address at the AAAS Annual Meeting last Friday. He discussed the importance of taking stock of the entire research and development enterprise, in order to provide a clear picture of U.S. capabilities in a global context that features other nations “nipping at our heels,” and then, drawing on this assessment — as well as the enduring values of our nation — to plan for the future in ways we haven’t seen since the Vannevar Bush report, The Endless Frontier , appeared after WWII. Droegemeier also emphasized the importance of strengthening partnerships...
Dear Research Advocate: The Congress is poised to pass, and the President appears ready to sign, a final FY19 spending package, averting another shutdown. Of note, the summary of the bill text indicates a $269 million (9%) increase for FDA, bringing its total FY19 budget to $3.08 billion, and a $307.6 million (4%) increase for NSF, bringing its total budget to $8.1 billion. Research!America joined with other science community leaders and Nobel Laureates earlier this week on a letter to members of Congress and the President, calling attention to the considerable negative effects of the recent partial shutdown as well as the need to avoid another costly impasse. There had been rumors that the...

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