Mary Woolley

Dear Research Advocate, Almost 30 years ago to the day, April 2, 1988, President Ronald Reagan delivered a radio address to the nation on the federal government’s role in scientific research. “We cannot know where scientific research will lead. The consequences and spin-offs are unknown and unknowable until they happen. But one thing is certain: If we don't explore, others will, and we'll fall behind.” The fact that the FY18 omnibus cites concerns that “China and 34 other competitors are outpacing the United States in terms of research spending,” demonstrates that President Reagan’s words ring true today. Our job now, to paraphrase former Congressman and Research!America Board Member Bart...
Dear Research Advocate: Last week at our awards event, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi announced that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) could see a $3 billion increase for FY18. Now that the omnibus deal has been struck (you can find the full text here ), we know that Leader Pelosi’s announcement was spot on and just the beginning of the good news. In addition to the unprecedented NIH increase, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality also received funding increases. Here are the numbers and see our statement for more details. Health research was not the only area of science boosted in the funding bill. The National...
Dear Research Advocate, Last night, nearly 500 people joined us for Research!America’s 22nd Annual Advocacy Awards Dinner. We had the honor of presenting Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) with the Edwin C. Whitehead Award for Medical Research Advocacy , welcomed surprise guest, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and had the privilege of honoring other truly inspirational leaders and leading organizations in science and advocacy. If you were not able to be with us, I encourage you to check out our dinner recap . You can also see photos and comments about the Advocacy Awards Dinner from attendees on Twitter by searching #RAawards18. For all of us at Research!America, it was...
Dear Research Advocate: I’ve devoted part of my last two letters to gun violence research, and this one will address it, as well. It seems to me that we are witnessing in real time just why research is essential to addressing what is actually a long-standing and multi-faceted societal challenge, playing out on the streets every day, as well as in schools, concerts and churches. I’m sure all of us have read and heard assertions about what drives individuals to choose gun violence. What’s too often lacking, though, are research-based findings to back up those assertions. If policy changes are taken based on assumptions rather than evidence, we are simply throwing the dice, not identifying...
Dear Research Advocate: The nation continues to reel in the aftermath of the Parkland massacre. This tragedy has raised the profile of both gun violence and mental illness, each of which demands attention in its own right. I hope you will take the opportunity to read a recent blog post Research!America member the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) posted on this topic. Each year, 43 million Americans experience a mental illness. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S and depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide – and these just scratch the surface of the challenge. The R&D pipeline in the mental health arena, and in other areas of neurobiological...
Dear Research Advocate: I write tonight’s letter grieving for the Parkland, Florida victims’ families and all those touched by yesterday’s shooting. Americans should feel safe to gather at a concert, go to work, go to school, and live our lives without fear of gun violence. Sadly, as I have noted too many times before, (see this post-Las Vegas weekly letter and statement post Orlando), our nation’s leaders are failing to act. We urge that this time be different. President Trump has decried the tragedy and announced a trip to Parkside. HHS Secretary Azar asserted before Congress that gun violence research will (finally) go forward again at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC...
Dear Research Advocate: Advocacy works! Yesterday the Senate reached a bipartisan agreement to raise both the Defense and non-Defense budget caps for FY18 and FY19. We expect the Senate and House to pass the measure and the President to sign the bill in time to prevent another government shutdown. The two-year deal is part of yet another (but this time very different) continuing resolution (CR), giving appropriators until March 23 to work out a final omnibus appropriations bill based — at last! — on higher spending caps. Many thanks to our partners in the Raise the Caps campaign, and thanks to all who joined us on social media to help secure the higher caps. Together, we gave voice — loudly...
Dear Research Advocate: In President Trump’s State of the Union address on Tuesday, there was little mention of research or innovation, although he noted that Americans aren’t satisfied with the status quo; they “...fill the world with art and music. They push the bounds of science and discovery.” The president talked passionately about challenges that require overcoming the status quo. He spoke of fighting the opioid epidemic and “helping get treatment for those in need.” Treatment is absolutely essential, as is research. The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) is funding critically important research to inform prevention, intervention, alternative pain treatment and other...
Dear Research Advocate: It’s “deja vu all over again” -- the current continuing resolution (CR) is set to expire tomorrow (January 19) at midnight. It may go to the wire, but Congress will likely pass a fourth CR to keep the government running until February 16. Last year, CRs dragged on and on until May 5! These serial deadlines are increasingly used as leverage by both sides of the aisle to push for legislative priorities, and thus it is increasingly difficult to pass a budget in a timely fashion. Still, a CR is far, far better than a government shutdown, which shortchanges the American public in many ways and can trigger serious and long-lasting effects on public health . Here is a good...
Dear Research Advocate: The clock is ticking; rumors abound; deals are on and off and the only thing certain is that we’ve been down this road four times already for this fiscal year without a resolution – yes, you guessed it! We are facing yet another round of flat government funding under a continuing resolution (CR). The current CR will expire on January 19, just a week from tomorrow. The latest news is that negotiations are moving ahead on a two-year package to raise the caps on defense spending by $72B in FY18 and $80B in FY19, and on non-defense spending by $45B in FY18 and $50B in FY19. I am cautiously optimistic that a deal will move forward, enabling appropriators to use the...

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You can change the image of things to come. But you can’t do it sitting on your hands … The science community should reach out to Congress and build bridges.
The Honorable John E. Porter