Mary Woolley

Today marks Research!America’s 29th anniversary as your partner in advocacy. Thank you for your engagement and support as we enter the new year. Findings from surveys we commissioned in 2017 reaffirm a slow-boiling irony: Americans have confidence in science and say they trust and respect scientists, yet scientists and the institutions in which they work remain largely invisible to the public. It may be tempting to view these findings as a signal that silence (and invisibility) are golden, but that would be a dangerous leap to make. “Confident in” is not synonymous with “supportive of,” and “invisible” and “top priority” rarely go hand in hand. Our findings and those of ScienceCounts and...
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...
Dear Research Advocate: Last weekend, many of us awoke to reports that CDC officials were barred from using several words and phrases, among them “science-based,” “evidence-based” and “diversity.” CDC and HHS officials quickly released statements contradicting the reports. Now there are more reports of efforts to replace certain words in agency budget documents. While every Administration has favored programs and favored vocabulary, this bears watching. As AAAS CEO and Research!America board member Dr. Rush Holt, explained on CNN , this is emblematic of a larger issue facing our nation: “neglect of evidence.” See our statement and a sign-on letter spearheaded by APHA to HHS Acting Secretary...
Dear Research Advocate: This week marks the one year anniversary of the signing of the 21st Century Cures Act. Ominously, momentum to accomplish the goals of this ground-breaking, bipartisan legislation and so much more could be forced off track by events of the last few hours: release by House leadership of a “hybrid” continuing resolution/Department of Defense bill that would fully fund FY18 Defense spending ($640B) while flat- funding everything else until (at least) January 19. The January 19th deadline wasn’t pulled out of thin air; that is the deadline for congressional action to prevent an across-the-board spending cut to meet the FY18 budget caps. The ‘hybrid’ proposal would...
Dear Research Advocate: Congressional leaders have reportedly negotiated a new, two-year budget deal with the White House that would raise the non-defense budget cap by about $37 billion and the defense cap by about $54 billion in FY18, and raise the FY19 caps by the same amounts. With the current continuing resolution (CR) expiring next Friday, December 8, another CR seems all but certain. The question remains whether congressional leaders will: 1) use this CR to give themselves an extra week or two to finish up negotiations on a budget deal and a subsequent omnibus package, or 2) settle on a longer CR that delays budget decisions until January, February or even later next year. A third...
Dear Research Advocate: With support from the Kavli Foundation, I’ve had the privilege of visiting research institutions across the country to speak to scientists about public and policymaker engagement. Earlier this week I visited Nebraska and Iowa. Among other topics, we explored the appetite -- a healthy one - for a course within the graduate science curriculum on the “public context” of science (including, but not limited to, the political/policy/funding environment as it bears on research and research bears on it). Hopefully demand will attract supply when it comes to a course like this! Another “frame of reference” issue we discussed relates to science skepticism. It can divide, but...
Dear Research Advocate: Americans spent $8.4 billion on Halloween in 2016 -- and no doubt will spend even more this year-- enough to fund the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) for 17+ years! What we spend to improve the quality of health care delivery represents only about 0.012% of the $3.3 trillion we spend on health care. Stats like these help place research -- in this case health services research (HSR) -- spending into perspective. (For more advocacy-relevant info, see our fact sheet .) The vision for AHRQ that Director Gopal Khanna shares in this terrific blog post underscores why a far greater investment in HSR makes strategic sense for our nation. More on what money...
Dear Research Advocate: I have given several talks recently on the role each of us has in winning hearts and minds for research, stressing the importance of telling stories and connecting emotionally rather than clobbering people with facts. That said, sometimes facts tell stories, and sometimes neither stories nor facts compel desperately needed change. Such is the case with gun violence. It’s time to dig deeper. On an average Sunday in this country, about 100 people are killed by firearms, two-thirds of them by suicide. Three days ago, 58 people who had gathered to watch music were senselessly gunned down by a single shooter. Our nation mourns this and every gun violence tragedy, but we...
Dear Research Advocate: The annual Golden Goose Awards ceremony was held last evening at the Library of Congress. These awards animate a truth about basic research: it really is what’s on the inside that counts. The 2014 award honored rat massage research . Judged by that top-line description alone, who wouldn’t be skeptical? In fact, this research saves lives and health care dollars...an estimated $4.7 billion a year in the US alone. This year, the Silence of the Frogs demonstrates how the health of frogs proves the interconnectedness of our world and how one seemingly small event can have a global impact. As they gain more and more attention, the Golden Goose Awards help more people,...
Dear Research Advocate: Last Friday, I attended the 2017 Lasker Awards luncheon. The awards program honors the legacy of Mary Lasker, who once crisply noted: “If you think research is expensive, try disease!” I was struck by Lasker Laureate John Schiller’s provocative observation in his acceptance remarks that ensuring the “nurturing stream” of a robust science infrastructure may be more important than celebrating outstanding individual scientists. I take his point and am glad there is room to celebrate both, and it is certainly true to Mary Lasker’s legacy that our community advocates for both -- for the institutions and policies and funding that make science possible, and for the...

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Funding research gives all of us a better chance of living a healthier life.
Pam Hirata, heart disease survivor