weekly letter

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...
Dear Research Advocate, Last days of 2020 : The deadline for finalizing FY21 legislation and for a supplemental spending bill will almost certainly be delayed until December 18. Delays like these are difficult to countenance. However, the important point is Congress and the White House are now trying to complete FY21 appropriations and the supplemental when they could instead abdicate by passing a long-term CR and – literally for some and figuratively for others – just call it quits. Advocates can’t call it quits either. While two major points of contention reportedly remain – liability protections for business and state and local funding support – there is no way to know for certain what...
Dear Research Advocate, Lame-Duck Session : Congressional lame-duck sessions can be busy, and the current one is no exception. The appropriations front remains quite fluid – while there were some signs that lawmakers would be able to move an FY21 omnibus funding package before the current Continuing Resolution (CR) expires on December 11, we are once again hearing that another short term CR may be necessary. Meanwhile, after weeks of inaction, there has been movement on the COVID-19 supplemental front. A group of bipartisan lawmakers this week released a $908 billion relief proposal as the basis for renewed negotiations. Will FY21 appropriations and the supplemental finally move forward?...
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, Appreciation : As we approach Thanksgiving, please consider two opportunities to recognize public health heroes. #PHTYD : Taking a moment to participate in Public Health Thank You Day is a quick way to express thanks to members of the public health workforce. Always held on the Monday before Thanksgiving, PHTYD carries special meaning this year as the public health community faces down a dramatic escalation in the pandemic. Visit and share the PHTYD link for tools you can use to make Monday a true day of appreciation for public health heroes. Call for Nominations : Speaking of heroes, nominations are open for four Excellence in Achievement in Public Health awards, a...

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Sidebar Quote

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