medical research

Dear Research Advocate: Since President Obama declared 2014 as a ’€œyear of action’€ in his State of the Union address, several people have asked my view on how the president might advance science by executive order. Some options that come to mind: the president can (1) pump up the budget for NIH and other science agencies in his FY15 budget blueprint, scheduled for release in early March; (2) require an assessment of the impact on innovation, access and economic growth before making any administration-initiated cuts to drug, biologic or device reimbursement; and (3) designate a task force to formulate a national science strategy. As several Members of Congress noted after the president’€™...
Today is World Cancer Day. Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the U.S., accounting for nearly one of every four deaths. Today, the American Cancer Society , the American Association for Cancer Research and many others organizations are joining forces to raise awareness and dispel misconceptions about cancer, while encouraging policy makers to make cancer research a national priority. What can you do? Call and email your representatives. Make some noise. Join the conversation on social media using hashtags #cancerresearch, #WorldCancerDay, #cancer and #curesnotcuts. Take a look at the list of World Cancer Day events for more ways to get involved. Did you know? Over the past 40...
Dear Research Advocate: Anticipating the 2014 State of the Union address next Tuesday evening, I have been searching for the right descriptor ’€” the union is ’€œin a state of resignation’€? ’€œThe state of the union is not as bad as it could be’€? ’€œThe union is in a state that falls short of its potential’€? ’€œThe Americans forming this union are in a state of disappointment regarding their elected leaders’€? A headline from The Washington Post last week addresses the latter point: ’€œCongratulations on your budget, Congress. America still hates you,’€ i.e. no uptick for those low ratings for congresspersons of either party! The president’€™s rating with the public is a bit better...
Dear Research Advocate: The omnibus appropriations bill about to become law demonstrates that bipartisanship and pseudo -regular order is achievable. We won’€™t know for sure if we have true ’€œregular order’€ until Congress proceeds through the FY15 appropriations process in a timely manner ’€” something that hasn’€™t happened for many years. The importance of regular order is that the public’€™s interests are heard from in hearings, and every Member of Congress participates in priority-setting instead of only having the opportunity to cast a single up-or-down vote. Regular order is worth working toward, since at least one priority we all care about did not fare well in the omnibus. The...
We applaud portions of the omnibus bill that support the nation’s research, innovation and public health ecosystem, which works to assure our future health and economic well-being. The growth in funding for the Food and Drug Administration, fueled in part by the common-sense return of the 2013 user fees, as well as the increases for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and the National Science Foundation are welcome news. But funding for the National Institutes of Health has been kept well below the level of scientific opportunity. We must eliminate sequestration once and for all, and grow our investment in NIH in order to slow and...
Dear Research Advocate: Following the lead of Budget Chairs Murray (D-WA) and Ryan (R-WI-01), Appropriations Chairs Mikulski (D-MD) and Rogers (R-KY-05) are trying to end the recent string of continuing resolutions and craft a funding compromise that advances the nation’€™s best interests. Congress may miss its January 15 deadline for appropriations, but it won’€™t likely shut down the government. We anticipate a short-term extension of the deadline while appropriators in both chambers work to craft an omnibus bill that reflects today’€™s priorities instead of blind, across-the-board cuts. It’€™s about time, you’€™re thinking (and I agree!) that Congress gets back to ’€œregular order.’€...
Recently, progress has been made in Congress that must not be confused for victory but is momentum to be capitalized on. For instance, the bipartisanship and compromise that we’€™ve seen in Congress is the first step in a long journey that is necessary for medical and health research to flourish and which provides temporary relief from sequestration. Now is the time to carry forward. Advocates cannot tiptoe around other far-reaching truths: Our global competitiveness is at risk, young scientists are leaving the profession as fewer grants are awarded, Americans are dying, health care costs are exploding, and the facts prove it. Investing in innovation, at levels set to match and exceed...
Dear Research Advocate: The end of the year is a good time to think ahead and consider our nation at the end of the decade; how will we fare in the world order? My letter this week to the editor of the New York Times highlights poll data indicating that Americans don’€™t believe the U.S. will be the world leader in science and technology by 2020. This data reflects opinions grounded in numerous media reports on China’s accomplishments and determination to lead the world in science. Chinese accomplishments in space of late and their plans for a space station in 2020 ought to be a 21st century “Sputnik moment” for the U.S. It should be a wake-up call to policy makers: get serious about...
Dear Research Advocate: Here’€™s a holiday surprise! I am not referring to the budget deal, but to the fact that Merriam-Webster’€™s 2013 word of the year ’€” determined via the greatest increase in online searches ’€” is “science.” I find this to be refreshing news, providing evidence that interest in science is growing, which in turn is an indication of substantial room for researchers and research advocates to contribute to public understanding and support of science. We appear to have an opportunity ready for the taking to overcome the “invisibility” problem that contributes to holding decision makers back from assigning a higher priority to science. And speaking of those decision...
December 18, 2013 ’€œSenate passage of the budget agreement brings us closer to restoring some of the funding lost under sequestration for medical and health research but this is a band-aid approach to solving our fiscal woes. Our nation’€™s research ecosystem has been a dealt a severe blow and will need robust funding to recover from steep budget cuts that slowed medical progress. We urge appropriators to adequately fund the National Institutes of Health and other agencies that advance scientific discovery and innovation to confront the many deadly and disabling diseases impacting our nation’€™s health and economy.’€

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Without continued support for health research, many of the most promising young scientists, their ideas and a myriad of potentially life-changing scientific breakthroughs will vanish into oblivion.
Paul Marinec, PhD; University of California San Francisco