NIH

Dear Research Advocate: At our post-election briefing this morning at AAAS in Washington, DC, the discussion focused on opportunities for advocacy given the composition and characteristics of the new Congress, and the importance of building new champions from among the nearly 100 new members of Congress. Of note — at last count, there are seven science-trained new members, a very welcome development! There is no doubt that a divided Congress can cause gridlock, but inaction is not a foregone conclusion, as was emphasized by our Chair, the Hon. Michael N. Castle. There are important, science-relevant issues, such as infrastructure, STEM education, and the opioid crisis, that both parties...
Dear Research Advocate: Last week, the White House laid out its plan for all Cabinet departments to trim their proposed FY20 budgets by 5%. If, as anticipated, these cuts begin with the FY20 spending caps signed into law in 2011 (so-called ‘sequestration’), rather than actual FY19 budgets, the proposed cuts could be shockingly deep—in the 25% range. The potential impact on the NIH budget alone could be a cut of $9.77B, wiping out the increases of the last few years to the point of returning to 2013 funding levels and, when adjusting for inflation, 2001 spending power. Other agencies could take equivalent hits, compromising progress in achieving health goals and sending a clear message to...
Dear Research Advocate: Earlier today, Rob Smith and Kim Monk of Capital Alpha Partners, and Pete Kirkham of Red Maple Consulting joined Research!America alliance members to discuss the near and mid-term outlook for congressional action on drug pricing, the state of play on appropriations, and other research-relevant issues. Although our speakers noted that much can change in the final week before the election, there were several key takeaways. First, it’s safe to say that the uncertainties surrounding the election and the ongoing interest (both in Congress and the White House) in addressing rising healthcare costs means that drug pricing and issues related to the supply chain more...
Dear Research Advocate: I am especially pleased to report that the House passed the Labor-H/Defense FY19 appropriations conference report yesterday, by a vote of 361-61. The President has said he will sign the bill, thus avoiding a partial government shutdown with its myriad negative consequences (including the toll on medical and public health progress). Please do as we have and say thank you to Congressional leadership for passing this bill in timely fashion, with funding that supports putting research to work to find the solutions to what ails us. Of particular note, the bill includes a $2 billion increase for NIH, as well as increases for other federal health agencies under HHS auspices...
Dear Research Advocate: Big news: it appears a Labor-H/Defense appropriations “conference report” (i.e. final bill) will clear Congress and reach the President’s desk before the September 30 deadline. Earlier this week, we sent a letter urging conferees Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO), Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Representative Tom Cole (R-OK), and Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) to push for the highest funding levels possible for NIH, CDC, AHRQ and CDMRP given the boundaries set by the House and Senate versions of the legislation. This just in: a summary of the conference report . A preliminary read (emphasis on “preliminary”) indicates that the conferees did indeed opt for favorable funding...
Dear Research Advocate: Research!America’s annual health research forum, “Straight Talk,” will kick off tomorrow, Thursday, September 6, at 10:15 AM EST at the Newseum in Washington, DC. I am sending this week’s letter a day early to ensure that you have the link to the livestream, since we are at full capacity in the room. Featuring HHS Secretary Alex Azar II and a host of other national leaders in the research and public health arenas, the goal of the forum is to foster candid discussion and seed new thinking around topics that are front and center in research and innovation. Be sure to listen in! The House returned from August recess yesterday and opted to “fast-track” the Labor-H/...
I valued the opportunity earlier this week to join the team from the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science as they delivered their high quality program at Mississippi State University. Mr. Alda gave a typically inspirational and amusing keynote and also kicked off the interactive sessions the next morning. The Alda Method© team-teaches communication skills, drawing on working actors’ improvisational abilities coupled with the expertise of educators and researchers who regularly contribute to the academic literature, including the Oxford Handbook of The Science of Science Communication . As more academic institutions consider adding a communication and public engagement component to...
Dear Research Advocate: President Trump signed the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 (NDAA), authorizing $716 billion in spending for the Department of Defense (DoD). R&D features prominently, including the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program ( CDMRP ), the WRAIR Labs, and other medical and public health research pivotal to domestic and global health security. A particularly compelling example of the value of defense research is the recent story of the youngest person to receive a face transplant in U.S. history, part of a research study DoD funded because of its critical applications for wounded warriors. Read more in this USA Today...
Dear Research Advocate: The Senate approved a four-bill minibus package including appropriations under the jurisdiction of the Interior-Environment, Financial Services, Agriculture (which includes FDA) and Transportation-HUD Subcommittees yesterday, and will now likely take up a combined Labor-H/Defense appropriations bill (inclusive of NIH, CDC, AHRQ, the Department of Defense CDMRP and other important research funding). Research!America sent a letter to Appropriations leaders today reinforcing their commendable efforts to wrap up FY19 appropriations before the 9/30 deadline. The stakes here are high: the alternative scenarios -- either flat funding under a continuing resolution or a...
Fostering strong partnerships between clinicians and researchers is the key to speeding the discovery and implementation of new asthma treatments, said Judith Woodfolk, MBChB, Ph.D., professor of medicine, Division of Asthma, Allergy and Immunology, Department of Medicine, University of Virginia School of Medicine, during Research!America’s asthma research briefing in Washington, D.C. on May 15. Woodfolk was joined by other experts spanning government, industry and the patient community for a panel discussion about research to prevent, treat and ultimately cure severe asthma. Eleanor Perfetto, Ph.D., M.S., senior vice president of strategic initiatives at the National Health Council,...

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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