weekly letter

Dear Research Advocate, Our nation’s research enterprise – and thus our society – has long benefitted mightily from the contributions of foreign-born scientists and engineers. In fact, nearly a third of the STEM workforce is foreign-born . A series of immigration-related actions by the executive branch, some already taken and others considered imminent, imperil academic, industry, and independent research across the country with consequences for our economy, our health, and our well-being. We are hosting an alliance member meeting on the state of play and advocacy opportunities next Monday, June 22 at 2 p.m. ET. Alliance members can register here . On Capitol Hill : Recent reports are that...
Dear Research Advocate, You may have paused yesterday in solidarity with the young scientists who galvanized the #ShutDownSTEM movement to listen and reflect on your personal and your organization’s role in ending racism; I did. The very first research project I was involved in worked hard to recruit its study volunteers from a diverse community; we were only modestly successful. That was more than 40 years ago; ensuring diversity in clinical trials is still a major obstacle. Overcoming health disparities is a related challenge, one that calls for — no, demands — far greater attention. Witness COVID-19. We may not know all the factors that are causing dramatically disproportionate harm to...
Dear Research Advocate, Our nation is ailing; anxious and eager for healing and for solutions that can seem out of reach. Research!America often speaks about science as a way to ‘find the solutions to what ails us’ – given the opportunity, science has and will continue to deliver solutions. But it isn’t only science that we need right now, as gaping wounds of injustice against black Americans assail us. Advocacy and action are needed to assure a fair and just society. Alexis de Tocqueville, that enduringly wise observer of our nation, said: “The greatness of America lies not in being more enlightened than any other nation, but rather in her ability to repair her faults.” Let’s all get to...
Dear Research Advocate, The U.S. death toll from COVID-19 has surpassed 100,000 lives. If anything other than tragedy and destruction lies in the wake of COVID-19, let it be the courage to see, clearly, the world we live in now. Our nation is ill-equipped for crises, ill-equipped for economic competitiveness, and under-resourced to speed progress against other health threats that kill just as surely, if not as rapidly, as COVID-19. Ignoring the pandemic’s message is all too tempting. Let’s not succumb to it. As National Academy of Sciences President Dr. Marcia McNutt advises, we must learn from the pandemic and “build back better”. Speaking of building back better, this Washington Post...
Dear Research Advocate, Researchers at Yale and George Mason University released a report this week reflecting Americans’ attitudes on climate change, including its impact on health. Queried in April, in the midst of the pandemic, respondents registered high levels of concern, surprising researchers who had anticipated the pandemic would have displaced climate as a top issue. That Americans link climate change and health correlates with our own survey data from earlier this year (pre-pandemic) in America Speaks! Poll Data Summary . Just released today, a new Pew Research Center report shows that a growing number of Americans, surveyed recently, say they have a “great deal of confidence in...
Dear Research Advocate, On Tuesday, Research!America sent a letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar asking him to clarify the decision to end NIH grant funding for an ongoing, EcoHealth Alliance research initiative focused on pandemic preparedness. We urge the Secretary to shed needed light on this significant (on many levels) decision. On Capitol Hill : House Democrats have released a draft emergency spending bill, the HEROES Act . This discussion draft includes $4 billion for the Office of the Director at NIH, of which “not less than $3 billion” would be set aside to help academic institutions absorb COVID-19 related shutdown and start-up costs. (This is $7 billion shy of the recovery costs NIH...
Dear Research Advocate, “Hopefully, the urgency that everyone is seeing around COVID-19 will translate into bigger investments for global health vaccines.” — Dr. Peter Hotez Renowned vaccinologist and prolific author Dr. Peter Hotez, Dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine and Co-director of the Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development, joined us yesterday for an alliance member call. Dr. Hotez spoke about the history of life-saving vaccines, COVID-19 vaccine development, and the alarming spread of the novel coronavirus across the southern hemisphere. He also spoke about the anti-science and anti-vaccine movements in our country and...
Dear Research Advocate, “We are in the profession that aims to come up with answers. We have a mission and a noble one. I often like to point out while our initials are NIH….in circumstances like this we’re the National Institutes of Hope. While fear, anxiety, and stress are all around us, hope can be contagious.” —Francis Collins, MD, PhD Earlier today, Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), joined us on our alliance member call to provide an overview of NIH’s unprecedented Accelerating COVID-19 Therapeutic Interventions and Vaccines (ACTIV) , a partnership between industry and governmental leaders working to speed COVID-19 vaccines and treatments. Dr...
Dear Research Advocate, Yesterday, we hosted a very popular webinar, Understanding the Landscape of COVID-19 Vaccine and Treatment R&D , featuring former FDA Commissioner Mark McClellan, Director of the Duke-Margolis Health Policy Center; Stefano Bertuzzi, CEO of the American Society for Microbiology; and former CDC Director Julie Gerberding, Executive Vice President and Chief Patient Officer, Strategic Communications, Global Public Policy and Population Health at Merck. All three are working tirelessly to combat COVID-19. In speaking about current public-private research efforts, Dr. Gerberding emphasized: “This is the time we need the most openness, the most transparency, and the...
Dear Research Advocate, This past Monday, CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield was our guest for the first of two alliance member calls this week, stressing the roles we all have to play: “I think this is an all-of-the nation response, not just an all-government response…. There’s no doubt we're going to learn a lot of lessons. But, I am 100 percent confident when we get to the other side, we're going to be so much stronger.” We are grateful to Director Redfield for spending time with us. Read more here . Innovation is key : Dr. Redfield repeatedly called for innovation: “I look forward to the innovation that we’re going to see from many of [Research!America’s] members to improve the tools we...

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Public sentiment is everything. With public sentiment, nothing can fail; without it nothing can succeed.
Abraham Lincoln