Mary Woolley

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...
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...

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