Mary Woolley's Weekly Letter

Dear Research Advocate: The government remains in a partial shutdown that began on December 22, taking a mounting toll on 800,000 federal workers, including those at FDA and NSF. The Alliance for a Stronger FDA has put together a “ Shutdown Toolkit ” detailing how this ongoing impasse is affecting us all. In a similar vein, the Coalition for National Science Funding has been sharing stories on social media that focus on how the shutdown is impacting NSF-funded research and programs, stifling discovery and sending a message of ‘no public confidence’ to aspiring young scientists. Clearly, the effects of the shutdown on research are multiple, disruptive and counterproductive. This New York...
Dear Research Advocate: In welcome news, last night the (departing) 115th Senate voted to confirm Dr. Kelvin Droegemeier as Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). Research!America sent a thank you note acknowledging the roles Senate Commerce Committee leaders John Thune (R-SD) and Bill Nelson (D-FL) played in advancing the nomination. This confirmation is a great beginning for the new year – and the most recent evidence that advocacy works! Tomorrow marks Research!America’s 30th anniversary. There is no question that over three decades, the medical and health research advocacy community has become more organized and more effective. While our community...
Dear Research Advocate: Today, our nation and world lost a research leader whose vision, commitment and compassion have catalyzed progress against a host of insidious health threats. Dr. Stephen Katz , the director of the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, died suddenly and unexpectedly this morning. We have been blessed by you and your service, and will miss you, Steve. The Senate passed a continuing resolution (CR) last night to flat-fund seven fiscal year 2019 appropriations bills at 2018 levels until February 8, 2019. (Recall that the federal fiscal year began on October 1, so this is not a minor delay.) It was fully expected that the House would pass...
Dear Research Advocate: Wake-up news this week: the U.S. has dropped out of the top ten on the list of “innovative countries” (see Bloomberg Innovation Index .) Also: for the first time, China is producing more scientific publications than the U.S. and recently released data from the National Science Board indicate that China is on track to overtake the U.S. in government investment in science research and development in two years or less. Meanwhile, among budget priorities, U.S. investment in R&D is treated like an afterthought -- with a broken budget system to boot. The fact that critically important government functions are in a “state of suspended animation,” as Ellie put it in a...

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