Public Health Thank You Day

Dear Research Advocate, This Thanksgiving will be challenging – there is no way around it – but giving thanks right now is especially appropriate. Medical and public health personnel, academic and industry researchers, and a plethora of other COVID-19 responders have put the interests of the public ahead of their own, working in high-risk settings, 24-7, to navigate an end to this brutal pandemic. And end it, we will. To help speed the day, elected officials must do their part. Unfinished Business: Unfortunately, we cannot yet thank federal policymakers for meeting two COVID-19-related imperatives: completing the FY21 appropriations process to unstick government functions basic to the...
Dear Research Advocate, Earlier this week, we held our Post-Election Briefing with a terrific panel featuring national public health leader Dr. Georges Benjamin, award-winning journalist Frank Sesno, and Capitol Hill veterans Cybele Bjorklund and Pete Kirkham. Through the lens of science and public health, we discussed the election results, the lame duck Congress, the upcoming 117th Congress, and a future Biden Administration. What surprised the panelists the most about the election: the high levels of voter participation despite the pandemic. Another area of consensus: the election results provide a crucial opportunity to elevate science and to rebuild our public health infrastructure ,...
Dear Research Advocate, On the Monday before Thanksgiving each year, Research!America, along with public health leaders across the nation take time to salute the people who work day-in and day-out to protect us from disease, injury, and other threats to our nation’s health. Members of this critical workforce can be found in every community across the country. They track infectious diseases and administer the vaccines to prevent their spread. They warn us about overuse of antibiotics leading to drug-resistant infections. They educate us about preventing accidental deaths by using infant car seats and about newer but avoidable dangers like vaping. And more. The public health workforce...
Dear Research Advocate: Happy Thanksgiving Week! I’m writing early to give us all a holiday. Last Thursday and Friday, l capped off a week of visiting our members at the McKnight Brain Institute (MBI) and the Health Science Center at the University of Florida. Research!America Chair Emeritus, and former member of Congress, the Honorable John Edward Porter, joined me at a Town Hall session during which students, postdocs, faculty, and administrators asked about the best ways to make the case for research with the current and new Congress. At MBI we heard patient advocate extraordinaire Jennifer French, Neurotech Network Executive Director, forcefully articulate the importance of a needed “...
Dear Research Advocate: News broke this week that the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is struggling with a still-rising death toll due to Ebola, claiming more than 139 lives since July and spreading beyond the DRC. Meanwhile in the U.S., public health experts are working day and night to understand and overcome acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), now affecting children in 22 or more states. Ebola and AFM are public health crises today. It is predictable that there will be more unexpected crises on top of ongoing threats like the opioid epidemic, the increasing prevalence of obesity, chronic diseases and more. Which is why it defies common sense that investment in global health and in our...
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: Yesterday, along with 85 partner organizations (more than ever before!), we celebrated Public Health Thank You Day . Hundreds of people took to social media with the hashtag #PHTYD to celebrate and thank the public health heroes who work 24/7 to maximize community health and safety. Overall, PHTYD garnered 10.1 million impressions on Twitter. Leaders in the field, including CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald, NIH Director Francis Collins, Surgeon General Jerome Adams, APHA Executive Director Georges Benjamin, and World Bank President Jim Kim added their voices to the overwhelming chorus of appreciation. Late last week, news broke of promising discussions in both...
Dr. Sue Anne Bell is a Clinical Associate Professor of Nursing and Health Behavior and Biological Sciences at the University of Michigan School of Nursing. Her research focus is on disaster preparedness and response, particularly on the long-term impact of disasters on human health in the United States and in settings around the world. You are currently in Puerto Rico assisting with the response to Hurricane Maria. Can you give a few examples of the long-term public health challenges Puerto Rico faces? Right now I am standing in the center of Old San Juan, which is usually a tourist mecca. Under normal conditions, this area would be filled with cruise ships, musicians, open restaurants and...
Dear Research Advocate: Yesterday, a high energy discussion on Advocating for Basic Science in a Disease-Focused World at the Society for Neuroscience conference once again revealed the strong appetite for advocacy among scientists, and young scientists in particular. The audience resonated with my point that “you can’t outsource advocacy,” and many were inspired to tweet on the spot. In case you doubt the impact of scientists engaging in advocacy, consider this: Research!America’s Board Chair, former Congressman (R-DE) and Governor Mike Castle, was recently interviewed by the Society for Neuroscience: “Scientists deepened my understanding of the promise of embryonic stem cell research...
Terrifying news accounts of recent deaths from Ebola, flesh-eating bacteria, HIV/AIDS, Zika and even the plague can give the misleading impression that we are at greater risk than ever. But we are fortunate to live in a time when—thanks to scientific advances that have produced lifesaving vaccines and treatments—we can actually begin to imagine a disease-free world. It’s appropriate for us on Public Health Thank You Day (PHTYD) to acknowledge the commitment of scientists around the globe who work tirelessly, often under difficult and dangerous circumstances, to solve the world’s most pressing health problems. As we have all been reminded, diseases know no borders so it’s important that we...

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