weekly letter

Dear Research Advocate: Speaking recently to the “New Voices” group at the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine, as well as to young scientists during a visit to the University of Miami, I was energized by the passion, determination and commitment they all have for engaging the public. I discussed highlights of the survey findings we feature in Research!America’s new poll data summary A new survey question probes awareness and support for engagement of scientists in the policy making process. Other survey highlights include trend data that might surprise you — like the 10% increase since 2015 in those who say they would be willing to pay more in taxes if the money went to...
Dear Research Advocate: Yesterday was the first day of spring and with it comes the hustle and bustle of appropriations season. Rumor has it House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-NY) plans to begin marking up fiscal year (FY) 2020 legislation as soon as late April with a Defense/Labor-HHS mini package among the first bills. It is therefore urgent we make the case now, with one voice, for strong FY20 research funding. Deadlines are close: Members of Congress must submit their individual requests to the House Labor, Health and Human Services, Education (Labor-H) Subcommittee by March 28, the Agriculture, FDA Subcommittee by April 4, and to the Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS)...
Dear Research Advocate: First, thank you! It was so meaningful to celebrate our 30th anniversary with so many of you at our annual meeting and advocacy awards dinner yesterday. It is difficult to do the day justice or fully express my gratitude for it. Check our website next week for a livestream of the annual meeting, which featured Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Admiral Brett Giroir; NIH National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) Director Dr. Gary Gibbons; a candid discussion between Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) President Emerita, Dr. Susan Hockfield and Seema Kumar of Johnson & Johnson; and the heartfelt story of cystic fibrosis patient...
Dear Research Advocate: A Senate HELP Committee hearing this week examined what is driving preventable disease outbreaks. A key issue of discussion – as observed in our 2018 survey data – is growing public suspicion about the benefit of vaccines. The hearing also focused on the need for a robust public health infrastructure that can prevent public health threats. In a New York Times op-ed published yesterday, Admiral Brett Giroir, Assistant Secretary of HHS, Dr. Robert Redfield, Director of CDC, and Vice Admiral Jerome Adams, U.S. Surgeon General, noted that vaccines have proven so successful that many clinicians and parents may not realize the seriousness of diseases – such as measles –...
Dear Research Advocate: It is disappointing but not, sad to say, surprising that the FY20 budget process is starting off on shaky ground. Several reports this week reinforce what the president has previously asserted: his budget proposal will feature a 5% cut in non-defense spending. That’s likely not the worst of it. If that across-the board cut sits on top of the $55 billion overall reduction in non-defense discretionary spending required by the return of “sequestration” (shorthand for austerity level budget caps), the president may be proposing cuts of 15% or more to some, if not most, federal science agencies. (It is important to emphasize that the president’s budget amounts to a...
Dear Research Advocate: Dr. Kelvin Droegemeier, the Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, gave his first public address at the AAAS Annual Meeting last Friday. He discussed the importance of taking stock of the entire research and development enterprise, in order to provide a clear picture of U.S. capabilities in a global context that features other nations “nipping at our heels,” and then, drawing on this assessment — as well as the enduring values of our nation — to plan for the future in ways we haven’t seen since the Vannevar Bush report, The Endless Frontier , appeared after WWII. Droegemeier also emphasized the importance of strengthening partnerships...
Dear Research Advocate: The Congress is poised to pass, and the President appears ready to sign, a final FY19 spending package, averting another shutdown. Of note, the summary of the bill text indicates a $269 million (9%) increase for FDA, bringing its total FY19 budget to $3.08 billion, and a $307.6 million (4%) increase for NSF, bringing its total budget to $8.1 billion. Research!America joined with other science community leaders and Nobel Laureates earlier this week on a letter to members of Congress and the President, calling attention to the considerable negative effects of the recent partial shutdown as well as the need to avoid another costly impasse. There had been rumors that the...
Dear Research Advocate: During his State of the Union address, when President Trump laid out the goal of ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the U.S., it brought to mind the critical role research has played in making eradication even plausible. Years and years of research and development in both the public and private sectors have yielded once-unimaginable diagnostics, treatments, prevention, strategies and public health surveillance tools. Relegating this scourge to the history books – in the U.S. and also worldwide – is a worthy goal indeed. The president highlighted our nation’s legacy of making “giant leaps of science and discovery.” As we noted in our statement , we can’t assume progress...
Dear Research Advocate: As you know, there has been a cease fire in the shutdown and people are back to work, at least for now. Over the next two weeks, members of Congress will attempt to resolve the stalemate over funding for the President’s border wall, packaging it with the seven remaining FY 2019 spending bills, which include funding for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the National Science Foundation (NSF). I am feeling optimistic about a deal being struck, not least because Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and Representative Nita Lowey (D-NY), Chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee, are leading the congressional...
Dear Research Advocate: The impact of the partial government shutdown – now entering its second month – continues to reverberate across the U.S., causing individual suffering and squandering progress at the expense of us all. Research!America signed on to two letters highlighting ways this shutdown is affecting the critical roles of FDA and NSF , not to mention the individuals impacted by their life-saving work. A picture (or graphic) is worth a thousand words: we have been using visuals via Twitter to make the case for ending the shutdown. I hope you’ll retweet and add your own voice to the conversation here . As we continue to push for a resolution to the shutdown, we must also work to...

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