opioid epidemic

Dear Research Advocate: Earlier this week, I visited both campuses (Davis and Sacramento) of the University of California, Davis. Uniquely, the campuses include a medical school, veterinary school including a primate center, school of engineering, nursing school and graduate and undergraduate science programs, all highly ranked. Campus leaders are justly proud of the collaborative programs they have fielded. It was especially rewarding to talk to early career scientists, fired with enthusiasm and determination to find the solutions to what ails us, and ready, willing and able to advocate. They inspired me! My time at UC Davis brought to mind “New Voices in Sciences, Engineering and Medicine...
Dear Research Advocate: Research!America teamed up with the American Society for Microbiology (ASM), the American Society for Virology (ASV), Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Nancy Messonnier on Monday for a briefing focused on vaccines and other facets of pandemic preparedness. The program, which coincided with the launch of a compelling Smithsonian exhibit entitled Outbreak , proved to be particularly resonant as news of Ebola and Nipah outbreaks proliferate. C-SPAN aired the briefing live, and it has drawn significant media interest including reports in NBC News and U.S. News & World Report . Are you like me and hadn’t heard of Nipah until this week? The current outbreak is in India and the...
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...
Dear Research Advocate: This week marks the one year anniversary of the signing of the 21st Century Cures Act. Ominously, momentum to accomplish the goals of this ground-breaking, bipartisan legislation and so much more could be forced off track by events of the last few hours: release by House leadership of a “hybrid” continuing resolution/Department of Defense bill that would fully fund FY18 Defense spending ($640B) while flat- funding everything else until (at least) January 19. The January 19th deadline wasn’t pulled out of thin air; that is the deadline for congressional action to prevent an across-the-board spending cut to meet the FY18 budget caps. The ‘hybrid’ proposal would...
Our nation’s health has improved in some areas but serious health challenges remain related to the escalating drug crisis and disparities in access to care. United Health Foundation’s 2017 America’s Health Rankings report indicates smoking prevalence, the rate of preventable hospitalizations and the percentage of uninsured Americans have declined, but the drug death rate has trended upward. In the past year, drug deaths reached the highest level recorded by America’s Health Rankings , increasing by 7%, particularly among whites. Even states that consistently rank among the healthiest in the nation saw increased mortality rates due to the drug epidemic. Over the past five years, drug death...
Dear Research Advocate: Americans spent $8.4 billion on Halloween in 2016 -- and no doubt will spend even more this year-- enough to fund the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) for 17+ years! What we spend to improve the quality of health care delivery represents only about 0.012% of the $3.3 trillion we spend on health care. Stats like these help place research -- in this case health services research (HSR) -- spending into perspective. (For more advocacy-relevant info, see our fact sheet .) The vision for AHRQ that Director Gopal Khanna shares in this terrific blog post underscores why a far greater investment in HSR makes strategic sense for our nation. More on what money...
Dear Research Advocate: I have given several talks recently on the role each of us has in winning hearts and minds for research, stressing the importance of telling stories and connecting emotionally rather than clobbering people with facts. That said, sometimes facts tell stories, and sometimes neither stories nor facts compel desperately needed change. Such is the case with gun violence. It’s time to dig deeper. On an average Sunday in this country, about 100 people are killed by firearms, two-thirds of them by suicide. Three days ago, 58 people who had gathered to watch music were senselessly gunned down by a single shooter. Our nation mourns this and every gun violence tragedy, but we...
Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) remembers the exact moment when he grasped the gravity of the opioid epidemic. As he prepared to give a speech in Taunton, Massachusetts in 2014, he asked the mayor and police chief what was the biggest issue facing their town. “We’ve lost seven people to overdoses in just the last couple of weeks,” they replied. Two years later, he said, Massachusetts lost 2,000 people to opioid-related deaths. Sen. Markey joined other speakers to discuss this epidemic at the Washington Post’s program Addiction in America co-hosted by Battelle on June 21, 2017. “Unless we put in place the necessary prevention and treatment programs, the epidemic will explode,” he stressed. More...
Dear Research Advocate: News this week from researchers in Brazil on hearing loss in infants born to mothers who have been infected with the Zika virus underscores the reality that we are far from seeing light at the end of this public health crisis tunnel. CDC Director Tom Frieden and NIAID Director Tony Fauci wrote on the perils of “robbing Peter to pay Paul” in funding the nation’s response to Zika in yesterday’s Washington Post . We are fortunate to be welcoming both of these leaders to our National Health Research Forum next week, so will have an in-the-moment update. Some 76% of Americans now say Congress should make passing the emergency Zika response an important priority when they...
Dear Research Advocate: Today, the House Labor-HHS appropriations subcommittee marked up its FY17 funding bill, which includes funding for NIH, CDC and AHRQ. NIH received a $1.25 billion increase, $750 million less than the Senate increase. Given the subcommittee’s overall budget allocation ($569 million below fiscal year 2016) and the more conservative funding climate in the House, this is still an extraordinarily positive outcome. At the markup, Chairman Tom Cole (R-OK-04) noted that the $1.25 billion increase set a floor - rather than a ceiling - for NIH funding in FY17, a positive sign for potential negotiations with the Senate later in the process. The House Labor-HHS bill proposes a...

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Luck shouldn't play a role in why I'm alive.
Laurie MacCaskill, a seven-year pancreatic cancer survivor