weekly letter

Dear Research Advocate, Perseverance and resilience anchor us as we navigate this pandemic. The recent landing of the Perseverance rover on Mars exemplifies the tenacity and commitment underlying breakthrough discoveries in science and technology. COVID-19 Therapeutics: Thanks to the perseverance of extraordinary academic and private sector researchers around the world, we now have an array of therapeutics available for a disease that a year ago was just entering the public consciousness. Earlier today, we hosted a virtual discussion focused on the what, when, and how behind COVID-19 interventions. If you were unable to join us today, I promise you will find the conversation informative,...
Dear Research Advocate, On Capitol Hill: Regrettably, there are no dollars to fill COVID-19 engendered research gaps — meaning all the many research programs put on hold or even shelved as the pandemic consumes attention — in the $1.9T relief package the House will vote on next week. That’s why we must all advocate for inclusion in the next supplemental, which is in the works. So much is at stake — answers for patients and the ability of researchers to generate those answers. The American taxpayer has invested a great deal in research and researchers; it is penny wise and pound foolish to leave so many of them high and dry at this point. Your Members of Congress can urge Congressional...
Dear Research Advocate, Public Support for a Science Strong Future : A new survey commissioned by Research!America affirms Americans’ support for investing in research as a top priority for the new Congress and Administration. Four of five express strong support for the value of both public and private sector research and innovation, and the percentage of Americans indicating support for basic research “even if it brings no immediate benefits” grew from 77% in August 2020 to 85% in January 2021, with three of four now favoring doubling federal spending on medical research. As reassuring as the new survey data is in most regards, one in five Americans say they have lost confidence in science...
Dear Research Advocate, In celebrating Black History Month, we acknowledge and honor the generations of African Americans who have significantly contributed to our nation’s history. Many resilient, unsung heroes have helped enact critical change in the areas of science policy and research advocacy. In collaboration with the National Science Policy Network, Research!America has curated a collection of videos that recognize #BlackInSciPol professionals. Learn more about these scientists in the vanguard of their fields, both past and present, by following #BlackInSciPolWeek on Twitter. Pushing for Health Equity : President Biden released an Executive Order on Ensuring an Equitable Pandemic...
Dear Research Advocate, Getting a fast start on assuring that our nation reclaims our – let’s face it – war-torn identity as a science-strong nation, the Biden Administration is moving full speed ahead. Consider PCAST (the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology ). President Biden issued an Executive Order (EO) chartering his advisory council earlier than any of the last four administrations. (You can track all of the President’s EOs here .) The President elevating the director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) to a cabinet-level position is another straight-out-of-the-gate action. A cabinet-level science advisor is the first of three recommendations...
Dear Research Advocate, As President Biden said yesterday during his inaugural address, “With unity, we can do great things. Important things.” Science has long been a unifier — for the public and policymakers alike — and, due to the pandemic, is more in the forefront now than in many, many years. Science is the right partner for “The hill we climb; If only we dare”, in the words of inaugural poet Amanda Gorman. Last week’s announcement of the elevation of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) director to the President’s Cabinet was groundbreaking, placing science and technology at the table, in the most literal sense. The nomination of Dr. Eric Lander as Presidential Science...
Dear Research Advocate, Supplemental Funding Needs, Part 1 : President-elect Biden has indicated he will seek bipartisan support for a supplemental funding measure to address the urgent and ever-evolving needs created by this vicious and ongoing pandemic. Research!America has sent a letter to the President-elect with several supplemental funding requests, and we will follow up with a letter to Congressional leadership. Earlier this week we held an alliance member meeting with NIH Principal Deputy Director Dr. Larry Tabak and Deputy Director for Extramural Research Dr. Michael Lauer ( recording here ). Every minute of this meeting provided vital information on how the agency is struggling to...
Dear Research Advocate, Leadership Required : For so many of us, the events of the last 24 hours are difficult to fully comprehend. Our nation has experienced a profound shock to our democracy. The tragic overlay to this tumultuous time is that our nation faces an enemy that thrives on the very distrust, turmoil, and political gridlock we have been witnessing. COVID-19 has now killed more than 360,000 Americans — more lives lost in just ten months than the entire population of 99.7% of the cities and towns in this nation. In addition to assuring the peaceful transition of power to a new Administration, federal, state, and local lawmakers, and leaders from all sectors, can — and they must —...
Dear Research Advocate, Earlier this week, Congress passed a long-awaited legislative package containing FY21 funding and COVID-19 emergency dollars. However, President Trump has publicly criticized the bill and of this writing, it’s unclear whether he will sign it or seek changes. The current Continuing Resolution keeping the federal government open expires on December 28, 2020. Needless to say, we are closely monitoring the situation. Let’s look at the bill Congress approved: For FY21, it contains increases over the prior year of over $1 billion for NIH, $200 million for NSF, $125 million for the CDC, and $42 million for the FDA. Unfortunately, the Agency for Healthcare Research and...
Dear Research Advocate, Even as the death toll rises and hospitals are overwhelmed, we can feel optimistic as the first COVID-19 vaccine to be authorized by the FDA is being delivered into the arms of Americans. Some recipients have cried in relief and gratitude. I like thinking about this vaccine metaphorically as a “double shot” – to protect against COVID-19 and as a booster shot in the arm for science. The vaccine truly brings home the value of science. Leading at the FDA : Science has delivered and so has the FDA. We hosted Dr. Peter Marks, the director of FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research (CBER) on Monday to discuss the FDA’s Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the...

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