Dear Research Advocate: I moderated a session at the always-compelling Aspen Institute’s Spotlight Health conference at the end of last week. We had a robust and “un-sugarcoated” discussion on the dual imperatives of affordability and fast-paced medical progress. Among the many terrific conference sessions were two featuring the newly announced CEO of the Amazon-Berkshire Hathaway-Morgan Stanley initiative, Dr. Atul Gawande. (I should add that he mentioned that they will arrive at a better name!) During his interview with PBS NewsHour’s Judy Woodruff, Dr. Gawande, whom I am proud to say was our Isadore Rosenfeld Advocacy Awardee this past March, made the point that not being thoughtful...
As America’s aging population increases, so too do concerns about the cognitive health of our nation’s seniors. Promoting and protecting the brain health of all Americans is a cornerstone of the Alzheimer’s Association’s mission. This year we are launching an ambitious research effort to better understand steps seniors can take to improve brain health and reduce their risk of cognitive decline. The Alzheimer's Association U.S. Study to Protect Brain Health Through Lifestyle Intervention to Reduce Risk (U.S. POINTER) is a two-year clinical trial to evaluate whether lifestyle interventions that simultaneously target many risk factors protect cognitive function in older adults who are at...
Dear Research Advocate: Advocacy works! The Senate narrowly voted down (48-50) advancing the president’s rescissions package to the Senate floor, this preserving $800 million that otherwise would have been stripped from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI). A special thanks to the Network for Excellence in Health Innovation (NEHI) and to other terrific advocates who helped make the case against the CMMI cut. The Senate Appropriations Committee has approved $8.1 billion for FY19 National Science Foundation funding, a 3.9% increase over FY18. While this number is slightly below the House-approved $8.175 billion, given that the overall increase to non-defense discretionary (...
Research!America, in partnership with the National Science Policy Network, has announced a request for proposals from student- and postdoc-led science policy groups for the alliance’s bipartisan civic engagement initiative for the 2018 midterm elections. The initiative will support student science policy groups interested in increasing their level of civic engagement and outreach to candidates running for national office to elevate the importance of scientific research during the midterm elections. Highly competitive proposals would be innovative, engage a diverse group of young scientists, and collaborate with other science policy groups for activities such as lab tours or roundtable...
Dear Research Advocate: The House Appropriations Committee released its FY19 Labor-HHS funding bill earlier today for subcommittee markup tomorrow morning . A few notes on the bill: NIH received $38.3 billion -- an additional $1.25 billion over the FY18 level -- and AHRQ received $334 million -- the same funding level as FY18. After accounting for anticipated, one-time changes to the total (including the transfer of the strategic national stockpile to the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness), CDC received a $427 million funding increase. Given that the highly constrained dollars the “Labor-H” Subcommittee had to work with, the NIH, AHRQ and CDC results are definitely a...
Stigma remains a top barrier to treatment for mental illness among minority groups, said panelists during a Capitol Hill briefing hosted by Research!America, the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), the National Hispanic Medical Association (NHMA) and the National Medical Association on June 13, 2018. Panelists stressed the importance of stakeholder collaboration, increased minority representation in health care fields and patient advocacy to help overcome mental health disparities. Andrew Sperling, director of legislative and policy advocacy at the National Alliance on Mental Illness, moderated the discussion. Mental illness is generally considered a taboo subject in the...
Trust between the general public and the scientific community must be restored to build greater public appreciation for the health and economic benefits of research, according to speakers at a panel discussion at the BIO International Convention in Boston, Massachusetts on June 6, 2018. In a recent survey commissioned by Research!America, only 35 percent of Americans can name a place where medical or health research is conducted. Our nation’s “science enterprise is at risk if the science community does not get more recognition from the general public,” said Mary Woolley, president and CEO, Research!America, a nonprofit advocacy alliance that encourages scientists to engage with citizens and...
Dear Research Advocate: The last few days have been wholly energizing. Yesterday, at the annual BIO International Convention, I had the opportunity to participate in a panel discussion titled “Science Needs Champions: Creating Collective Action to Advance Biotech Innovations for Humanity.” It wasn’t a “happy talk” session; the participants had no interest in candy-coating the challenges entailed in promoting faster progress while fostering the access and affordability needed to secure the highest return on that innovation. The discussion reinforced that there are no easy answers. Policymakers and the health care ecosystem, very much including the science community, need to work together,...
The U.S. graduate education programs for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) are known for being among the best in the world. However, a new report says many graduates lack the ability to translate their knowledge into different career paths. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) recently published Graduate STEM Education for the 21 st Century , which recommends revitalizing the STEM graduate education system. The main takeaway from the report is that the programs should be “student-centered,” said Dr. Alan Leshner, chair of the committee that wrote the report and CEO emeritus of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)...

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America’s economic destiny lies in innovation, technology, science and research.
The Honorable John E. Porter