Mary Woolley's Weekly Letter: Collaboration, Coordination, Innovation

Mary Woolley

Dear Research Advocate,

Budget Watch: The Biden Administration has released a “skinny budget,” a glimpse into the more detailed Fiscal Year 2022 budget proposal the President is expected to release in May. Read our statement here. The proposal places a strong emphasis on science, technology, and public health. We firmly believe this emphasis can carry over, on a bipartisan basis, to the Congressional appropriations process. With help from advocates, that is.  

Here’s one way to weigh in: three “Dear Colleague” letters (requests from one Member of Congress to their colleagues) are circulating in the House right now. Ask your representative to sign on to these letters, which support robust FY22 funding for NIH, CDC, and NSF, respectively. The sign-on deadline for all three is COB, April 23, 2021. Use this editable email.

Americans Agree: Tomorrow, we will release our 21st annual summary of recent public opinion surveys, reflecting Americans’ largely positive views on science, research funding, trust in research institutions, and much more. For example, 75% of Americans favor doubling spending on medical research over the next five years. Another highlight: three in four (73%) say that the COVID-19 pandemic is a disruptive event and requires the United States to assign a higher priority to science and technology. Sneak peek here.  

Endless Frontier Hearing: The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation held a hearing yesterday on the Schumer/Young Endless Frontier Act (EFA), which will reportedly be reintroduced soon. 

Witnesses spoke to meeting the moment by advancing science and technology in new ways. Notre Dame Provost Dr. Marie Lynne Miranda suggested creating funding mechanisms that encourage interdisciplinary collaboration to meld curiosity-driven and use-driven research. Bill Bonvillian of MIT said: “Innovation is a team sport. We have to address this in the EFA to ensure coordination between agencies.” 

The Science and Technology Action Plan (STAP) also underscores the importance of both curiosity-driven and use-driven research; partnerships; and cross-agency, cross-sector coordination as underappreciated facets of innovative and efficient S&T progress.

Also on the Hill: During a House Labor-H Appropriations Subcommittee hearing earlier today, HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra indicated that the Biden Administration would be issuing a statement as early as tomorrow regarding the damaging layer of restrictions placed on fetal tissue research in June 2019. While he didn’t go into detail, we are hopeful the new policy will enable valuable intramural and extramural research to move forward once again. Lives depend upon it.  

UNITE Deadline Extended: NIH has committed to ending structural racism within the agency and throughout the science community, fueled by the UNITE Initiative. The deadline to submit comments has been extended to Friday, April 23, 2021. To respond to the RFI, click here.

Also from NIH — Alliance Member Meeting Recap: Dr. Walter J. Koroshetz, Director of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), joined us today to discuss “Long COVID.” If you missed this information-packed, 30-minute session, watch here.

Annual Meeting: Research!America’s Annual Meeting of Members will be held on Thursday, April 29 from 1:00-2:30 p.m. ET. CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky will discuss CDC’s current efforts as the COVID-19 crisis continues and her vision for the agency going forward. Register here.

And More… Register here to join us on Tuesday, April 20 at 2 p.m. ET for a discussion with Benjamin Yerxa, CEO of the Foundation Fighting Blindness and Karen Petrou, Managing Partner at Federal Financial Analytics, Inc. Ben and Karen will address legislation Congressman Bobby Rush (D-IL) plans to introduce that, like the President’s ARPA-H proposal, takes aim at the medical progress-limiting “valley of death” in biomedical R&D financing.

Mark your calendars now for these future alliance member meetings:

  • On Wednesday, April 28 at 1 p.m. ET Dr. Carolyn Clancy, Acting Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs, will join us for a conversation about the VA’s research priorities: the VA’s role in driving medical and public health progress may not always be in the spotlight, but it is always impactful. 

Emily Holubowich, Vice President of Federal Advocacy with American Heart Association, will also join us on April 28. No one is better than Emily at demystifying the complexities of the federal budget and appropriations process. Register here

  • On Thursday, May 6 at 2:30 p.m. ET, join us for a conversation with Dr. Ned Sharpless, Director, National Cancer Institute. We’ll ask him to address the Institute’s research priorities, his perspective on the potential role of ARPA-H in driving progress against cancer, and other timely topics. Register here.

Stay well, stay safe, and stay connected.  

Sincerely,

Mary Woolley

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