Mary Woolley's Weekly Letter

Dear Research Advocate, As President Biden said yesterday during his inaugural address, “With unity, we can do great things. Important things.” Science has long been a unifier — for the public and policymakers alike — and, due to the pandemic, is more in the forefront now than in many, many years. Science is the right partner for “The hill we climb; If only we dare”, in the words of inaugural poet Amanda Gorman. Last week’s announcement of the elevation of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) director to the President’s Cabinet was groundbreaking, placing science and technology at the table, in the most literal sense. The nomination of Dr. Eric Lander as Presidential Science...
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, We lost two extraordinary Civil Rights heroes this past weekend, John Lewis and C.T. Vivian. Of these courageous, committed advocates, Dr. Louis Sullivan, former HHS Secretary, Research!America emeritus board member, and friend to research advocacy, said in a statement: “ The lives of millions are better today because of their leadership and their sacrifice .” AAAS has begun a “transition to a lifelong commitment of actions to eradicate anti-Black racism in academia and STEM.” AAAS CEO and Research!America board member Dr. Sudip Parikh is leading the three-phase effort. You can review the first phase of the draft plan now. AAAS welcomes your feedback; please email...
Dear Research Advocate, We sent a letter to President Trump yesterday in support of Dr. Anthony Fauci , noting: “the depth of expertise he brings to COVID-19 response efforts is an asset our nation simply cannot afford to forsake.” A conversation with the inimitable Dr. Fauci will be among those featured at our virtual National Health Research Forum, September 8-10, 2020. Please mark the dates and look for more information soon. Good News : To the relief of many students and universities, the Administration earlier this week rescinded a proposed policy which would have denied visas to international students forced by the pandemic to engage in remote learning at our nation’s universities and...
Dear Research Advocate, Warning — Bad News First : On Tuesday, the Administration notified the United Nations of its intent to withdraw the U.S. from the World Health Organization (WHO). The withdrawal would not be effective until July 6, 2021, but the timing is cold comfort given the message it sends and the rickety path it implies for our nation's COVID-19 response. Research!America signed on to a letter asking Congress to take action to stop the withdrawal, and we will continue to make the case that social distancing does not mean global distancing. Unfortunately, this isn’t the only recent Administration action that contravenes American values and interests. T he U.S. Department of...
Dear Research Advocate, “Not only is it important to ask questions and find the answers, as a scientist I felt obligated to communicate with the world what we were learning.” Stephen Hawking This apt quotation serves as the preface to a newly released survey from ScienceCounts and the Alan Alda Foundation for Communicating Science. Their findings, coupled with those reported a few weeks ago by SigmaXi and Research!America, signal recognition that if science is to thrive, scientists themselves must help make the case. Both surveys indicate that scientists are very willing to become engaged -- more so than ever before, in my experience! This week, members of Congress are back home, but not...
Dear Research Advocate, At our recent jam-packed Alliance Member Meeting we heard from Grace Graham, Health Policy Director for Senate HELP Committee Chairman Alexander (R-TN), and Andi Fristedt, Deputy Health Policy Director for Ranking Member Murray (D-WA). Grace and Andi encouraged input on bipartisan draft legislation that covers a range of healthcare and public health issues, including increasing efficiency and reducing costs, confronting rising maternal mortality rates, and addressing vaccine hesitancy. The authors of the bill are taking comments until June 5. Experts joined us at the University of San Francisco’s Mission Bay Campus for a spirited evening of conversation about the use...
Dear Research Advocate, Today, the House Commerce, Justice, and Science (CJS) Appropriations Subcommittee released its Fiscal Year 2020 funding bill, which they will consider tomorrow. The good news is that the bill contains the largest increase in funding for the National Science Foundation (NSF) in several years; the bad news is we can’t get there from here unless we #RaisetheCaps. On that subject, President Trump and Senate Majority Leader McConnell have met to discuss the importance of a caps deal; according to news reports , the President was receptive. It is critical for stakeholders to reinforce the need for a deal now, while both the President and Congress are focused on it. If...
Dear Research Advocate, Yesterday, the House Appropriations Committee passed the Fiscal Year 2020 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies funding bill. While there is great news in the bill, it must be considered in the grim context of the across the board cuts that will happen if Congress does not act to raise the budget caps. Our statement addresses both the good and bad news. The bill, which Congressional leadership is expected to bring to the House floor in June, includes more than $8.25 billion for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over $41 billion for the National Institutes of Health, and $358 million for the Agency for Healthcare Research and...

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