Mary Woolley's Weekly Letter: Communication, Innovation, Advocacy

Mary Woolley

Dear Research Advocate,

On the Hill: Will progress be a priority? The moment you take today to advocate (that’s presumptuous of me, but I know the readers of this weekly letter are action-oriented) is timely: the House has established a preliminary topline appropriations number of $1.5 trillion for both defense and non-defense discretionary spending. This placeholder number, which tracks closely to the President’s topline, enables the House to begin the FY22 appropriations process in earnest — allocating funding to each Appropriations Subcommittee and crafting various funding bills.  

While the House topline may change a bit later this summer and the Senate has not yet floated a topline, the House action signals that things are getting serious. The time is right to successfully advocate for faster medical and public health progress. Use this editable tweet to make the case.

Aiming Higher: In previous letters, I have referred you to the Science and Technology Action Plan, which is a call for turbo-charging science and technology to get out ahead of the existential threats faced by our nation and the global community.

It is easier in the short run to only address the threat that is front and center, but with lives, jobs, and the very viability of our planet on the line, bolstering our nation’s science and technology capacity and output has rightly become a bipartisan priority. As I noted last week, the Senate passed the United States Innovation and Competition Act (S.1260) on a bipartisan basis. The House Science Committee has now marked up the National Science Foundation for the Future Act (H.R.2225) and the DOE Science for the Future Act (H.R.3593). Next stop: full House consideration. 

Please take a moment now to tweet Congressional leadership to urge them to come to a consensus around policy and funding changes that supersize our S&T strengths to secure the future for us all.

A Clear Voice: Anne Schuchat, MD, Principal Deputy Director of the CDC and recipient of the 2021 Research!America Clear Voice Award, wrote a must-read essay in The New York Times this week. In Anne’s message — and seemingly built into her DNA — is the ability to convey what is, and what is needed, in the public health arena in a manner that commands respect and compels action. Read our statement on Anne’s retirement here.

A Clear Need: The rapid development of COVID-19 vaccines has been nothing short of historic. Still, SARS-CoV-2 mutations are circulating around the globe — this week, the Delta variant was labeled a “variant of concern.” 

The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will be discussing COVID-19 vaccines, boosters, and variants during a three-day meeting from June 23-25. Updates on the exact timing of that session and a link to the livestream are available here.

ARPA-H Update: During last week’s meeting of the NIH Advisory Committee to the Director, OSTP Director Eric Lander, PhD, and Assistant Director Tara Schwetz, PhD, gave a presentation on the proposed ARPA-H. They provided examples of the breadth — “molecular to societal” — and promise — that ARPA-H holds. Among those examples: mRNA vaccines for cancer and next-generation wearable technology to give patients and physicians reliable and real-time health data.

ARPA-H Alliance Meetings: Research!America continues to convene our members on ARPA-H, including last week’s closed door roundtable discussion. If you’re an alliance member, join us on Tuesday, June 22 from 2–3 p.m. ET for a brief review of next steps from that roundtable and a candid, off-the-record conversation with Peder Maarbjerg, Assistant Director for External Coordination at ARPA-E. Use this form to register. 

 

(Note that this session is only open to members of the Research!America alliance. If your organization isn’t a member, joining is a simple process: visit the membership page of our website, or email Katie Goode; she’ll be glad to discuss the full array of benefits membership brings.)

 

Evidence-based Communication: “Stories are the most powerful instrument known to man.” In today’s alliance meeting, Robin Castellani, President and CEO of Castle & Spark, shared her decades of communications experience with us to illustrate how scientific evidence grounds the world of storytelling for advocacy, and highlighted the elements of stories that can affect real change. Watch her presentation here and access her slides here.

 

Advocacy Awards Nominations: I hope you’ll take a moment to review information about our 2022 advocacy awards. If you know a person (or organization) who fits the bill for one of the awards, click here to submit your nomination through our streamlined process. The nominations deadline is Friday, June 25, 2021.

 

Support Science: Many thanks to all who have donated to support Research!America’s work. With science, ingenuity, and commitment, our nation can out-smart and out-innovate health threats that take lives prematurely every minute of every day. Your support will help us align federal priorities, funding, and policies with the power science holds to save lives. Please consider making a gift today.

 

Stay well, stay safe, and stay connected.

Sincerely,

Mary Woolley

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The capabilities are enormous, a little bit of research can pay off quite a bit in the long run.
Paul D’ Addario, retinitis pigmentosa patient