NSF

Dear Research Advocate, House of Representatives Science Committee Chair Lamar Smith’€™s (R-TX) proposed legislation, the “ High Quality Research Act ,” would undermine, rather than achieve, “high quality” in research, since it would create several new hoops for approval of NSF-funded grants. These appear to be based on the mistaken idea that science follows a linear path to a single metric for success or failure. And the bill requires the NSF director to attest in advance to the success of each funded proposal! Letters penned by former NSF directors and National Science Board chairs and former NSF assistant directors warn of the “chilling and detrimental impact” this legislation could have...
Dear Research Advocate, President Obama spoke to the National Academies of Science on Monday. I commend his remarks to you. He charged the members of the Academy, and by extension the science community writ large, to engage at ’€œthe center and the heart of our public debate.’€ He said that IF scientists do so, the nation will be assured of continued prominence. IF is a tall order — it makes most scientists very uncomfortable, but it is essential that we get out of our comfort zone right now. The president didn’€™t pound his fist on the podium in stressing this, so I will. The science community simply cannot step away from the public and political fray right now; not if we want to see the...
Dear Research Advocate, Media attention to the impact of sequestration-forced furloughs at the FAA, causing airport delays, has put both Congress and the administration on the defensive. Senate Majority Leader Reid has introduced legislation to delay sequestration until a broader deficit reduction solution can be negotiated, and there is a Republican-led effort to prevent the closure of towers and stop the furloughs. It is unclear where these efforts will lead, but there clearly is power in showcasing concrete damage to our citizenry and our economy as a way to illustrate the larger problem: Sequestration isn’€™t just a delayed flight issue, it is huge, strategic mistake for our nation...
Dear Research Advocate, Senators Casey (D-PA) and Burr (R-NC), recently honored with our Whitehead Award for Research Advocacy, have joined forces again with a bipartisan letter calling for a strong commitment to NIH funding in FY 14. Please take a moment now to urge your senators to sign on to this letter. And say thank you to Senators Burr and Casey for being champions for research! In past letters, I’€™ve written about attempts by Congress to micromanage and in some cases, attack critical components of our nation’€™s research portfolio. The social sciences have been targeted time and time again despite the immense value of these programs and the return on investment they represent. In...
How much financial benefit do we reap from biomedical research? What are the economic gains that result from introduction of new medications, changes to personal health behavior or reworking the Medicare and Medicaid health systems? These and other questions were discussed at a recent Capitol Hill briefing on health economics research co-sponsored by Academy Health, Research!America and other organizations. In an era of skyrocketing medical costs, this type of research can provide vital information to policy makers and health care providers to reign in the costs of healthcare without compromising the quality of patient care. Health economics experts Mark McClellan, MD, PhD, of the Brookings...
Dear Research Advocate, The President’€™s budget is out and it’€™s a mixed bag. First, the good news. NSF was given a significant funding boost, $593M over 2012 levels, NIH funding was increased by $470M, and AHRQ, via budget trade-offs, looks to have been boosted by $64M. The increases are from FY12 to FY14, since the President’s budget replaces sequestration in a different way than either Congressional body (see more below). The not so good news in the President’s budget is that other health research agencies did not fare well. The CDC budget was cut deeply, especially prevention programs. FDA was essentially flat -funded. And entitlement-reform may pose a challenge to innovation. The...
The president’s FY14 budget proposal offers a lifeline for medical research to replace sequestration’s damaging footprints. The budget includes $31.3 billion for the National Institutes of Health, as well as increases for the Food and Drug Administration and National Science Foundation. These increases would take our nation in the right direction, but we’re concerned that budget proposals from Congress – one from each of the House and Senate – unlike the president, fail to reverse sequestration. Sequestration, 10 years of across-the-board spending cuts, will drag our nation down from its leadership position in research and development as other countries aggressively ramp up investments,...
Dear Research Advocate, On Tuesday, the president announced a new $100 million brain research initiative (BRAIN) that will involve NSF, NIH and DARPA and include support from a number of independent research institutes and private foundations. The fact that the White House has announced this ’€œmoonshot’€ is an important sign that research is securing its rightful role as a top national priority, which is critical to our collective goal of eliminating sequestration and aligning research funding with scientific opportunity. The president will include BRAIN in his FY14 budget, which will be released April 10. In CQ , House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) expressed support for the BRAIN...
President Barack Obama unveiled the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative on Tuesday. Described in a White House press release as one of the administration’€™s ’€œGrand Challenges,’€ the goal of the initiative is to bring private and public sector research together to accelerate the development and application of technology and research into the function of complex neural networks. President Obama laid the ground work for today’€™s announcement during his State of the Union address in January, calling for an increased investment in research to achieve ’€œa level of research and development not seen since the height of the space race.’€ The...
Dear Research Advocate, Glimmers of hope can be found in the dire funding situation we face under sequestration. The continuing resolution (C.R.) funding the government through the end of the fiscal year (September 30) included very small increases for NIH, CDC, NSF and FDA; AHRQ was flat funded. But the fact remains that these increases were overwhelmed by the effect of sequestration, which remains in place and will continue to weigh us down for 10 years unless overturned. Our champions in Congress are speaking out and taking a stand on behalf of research as the budget negotiation proceeds. Reps. McKinley (R-WV) and Markey (D-MA) have co-authored a letter to House appropriators calling for...

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