weekly letter

Dear Research Advocate: Both the Republican and Democratic platforms highlight the importance of achieving medical progress, responding to the fact that Americans place a high value on achieving health and wellness (see my Huffington Post blog last Friday discussing our newest survey results ). A portion of the first day of the Democratic convention this week was devoted to public health topics, including the opioid abuse crisis . Secretary Clinton chose Senator Tim Kaine as her running mate, a policymaker with a solid track record on public health; a strong proponent of prevention. In Sen. Kaine’s speech last evening, he emphasized the importance of research to defeat Alzheimer’s and...
Dear Research Advocate: Not surprisingly since it is the last week before an extended recess, Congress has been quite busy. There have been highs, lows and a lot that’s in between. Congress passed the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), but without a dedicated funding stream to jump start progress. The House Appropriations Committee passed an FY17 Labor-H appropriations bill with a robust $1.25 billion increase for NIH and a pledge from Chairman Tom Cole (R-OK) to make this number even higher. However, there was bitter partisan disagreement on restricting CDC gun violence prevention research and how to address the Zika crisis, leading to passage along party lines of a bill that...
Dear Research Advocate: A report out this week by United Health Foundation concluded that an astonishing 72% of Americans have at least one of the five most impactful “unhealthy behaviors” (smoking, physical inactivity, insufficient sleep, excessive drinking or obesity). A White House report out this week quantifies the massive public health threat brought on by climate change and outlines the emerging issues, supporting evidence and the research required to curb these predicted effects. The need for improved public health is more evident then ever, and public health research is the best way to develop evidence-based, outcome-oriented interventions. Good thing it’s National Public Health...
Dear Research Advocate: We celebrated steadfast advocates for research to improve health at last week’s Advocacy Awards Dinner; pictures are now available. Champions like Whitehead awardees Chairmen Blunt and Cole keep us energized in the fight for medical research, even in the face of its virtual absence on the presidential campaign trail. Indeed, Research!America Chairman, Hon. John Porter, urged everyone present to take it upon themselves, as advocates, to make it clear how vital this election is to the future of science, research, and health. Since this is the mission of Campaign for Cures and related Research!America election-year activities, we can help you in your advocacy! Our...
Dear Research Advocate: Our Annual Members Meeting and Advocacy Awards Dinner are coming up on March 16. There is still time to register for both the meeting , where we will hear remarks from Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), FDA Commissioner Robert Califf, M.D., and ALS patient-advocate Lorri Carey, and the dinner , where we will be presenting awards to a distinguished group of research and innovation champions and world class advocates. Join us for an inspiring day! Yesterday, the Senate HELP committee passed a second set of seven bipartisan “Innovations” bills, which focus on a range of topics including combination products, patient input on all aspects of clinical trials and health IT. See...
Dear Research Advocate: Despite their fierce partisan standoff regarding confirmation of a Supreme Court nominee, members of the Senate acted in a strongly bi partisan manner yesterday to confirm Robert M. Califf, M.D., as the new FDA Commissioner. Dr. Califf brings an accomplished career of expertise and insight to the position. The goals he has set include increasing patient involvement in the FDA regulatory process, streamlining clinical trials, and attracting and retaining the best scientists, according to STAT News . For more on Dr. Califf’s confirmation, please see my statement . Commissioner Califf will be joining us as a keynote speaker at Research!America’s Annual Meeting at noon...
Dear Research Advocate, The President released his FY17 budget on Tuesday, launching this year’s appropriations process. Unfortunately, his proposed budget falls short of expectations and far short of putting adequate resources to work to find solutions for what ails us. Cuts to the baseline budgets of NIH and CDC , and flat funding for FDA 's drug ($492 million) and biologics ($215 million) programs are proposed. While temporary, mandatory funding is provided for several important initiatives -- $755 million for the cancer moonshot initiative, $107 million for precision medicine, and $1.8 billion to address the Zika virus, this nation cannot sustain a robust research infrastructure with...
Dear Research Advocate, In his final State of the Union address, President Barack Obama spoke about his vision for the future, “For the loved ones we’ve all lost, for the family we can still save, let’s make America the country that cures cancer once and for all. Medical research is critical .” The President has placed Vice President Biden at ‘mission control’ for this ‘moonshot’ to cure cancer, and the Vice President is poised to lead. (See my SOTU statement. ) Historically, presidential articulation has driven the national commitment to science in ways that leapfrog incremental progress by pulling out all the stops. That’s the kind of moment we’re seeing right now, and it is has captured...
Dear Research Advocate, The shocking attacks in Beirut and Paris serve as reminders of the global interconnectedness of our society. In so many ways, the tragedies others face are also ours and their challenges are our challenges, health challenges very much included. Last evening I interviewed Dr. Tamar Kokashvili, a grantee of CRDF Global, at their 20th anniversary dinner. Dr. Kokashvili, who hails from the nation of Georgia, collaborates with University of Maryland scientists to characterize genetic diversity of cholera bacteria (over 200 strains, complicating both diagnosis and treatment). Just in the last few weeks we have learned of cholera outbreaks in Syrian refugee camps, and...
Dear Research Advocate, It was down to the wire, but Congress passed and the President signed a continuing resolution (CR) yesterday evening to keep the government operating, at least through December 11, 2015. Speaker Boehner’s sudden resignation last Friday came as a shock. But since he has made it clear there is still a lot he’d like to accomplish before he leaves Congress on October 30, hopes have soared in many quarters! He is reportedly working with Leader Pelosi (D-CA-12), Senate leadership and the White House on a longer term budget deal, one that we hope will jettison sequestration. Now is a good time to thank members of Congress for taking action to prevent a shutdown, and urge...

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Sidebar Quote

If concerted, long-term investments in research are not made, America will lose an entire generation of young scientists.
Brenda Canine, PhD; McLaughlin Research Institute, Montana