Mary Woolley's Weekly Letter

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 Good News : To the relief of many students and universities, the Administration earlier this week rescinded a proposed policy which would have denied visas to international students forced by the pandemic to engage in remote learning at our nation’s universities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...
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: 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: As you know, there has been a cease fire in the shutdown and people are back to work, at least for now. Over the next two weeks, members of Congress will attempt to resolve the stalemate over funding for the President’s border wall, packaging it with the seven remaining FY 2019 spending bills, which include funding for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the National Science Foundation (NSF). I am feeling optimistic about a deal being struck, not least because Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and Representative Nita Lowey (D-NY), Chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee, are leading the congressional...

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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