Mary Woolley's Weekly Letter: Don’t wait to advocate

Ellie Dehoney

Dear Research Advocate,

Our guest author this week is Ellie Dehoney, Research!America’s Vice President of Policy and Advocacy.

Ten years ago this month, Dr. Francis Collins became the 16th Director of the National Institutes of Health. The Ad Hoc Group for Medical Research, of which Research!America is a member, sent a letter to Dr. Collins congratulating and thanking him for his remarkable  service, achievements and impact. Our latest web resource highlights the history, progress, and promise of the groundbreaking research NIH conducts and supports.

Funding for NIH and our nation’s other science agencies hinges on timely congressional action, and on you. Don’t wait to advocate. Hard-won legislation lifting the sequestration budget caps gave Congress some, but not much, flexibility to increase Fiscal Year 2020 funding for key priorities. If we want research to be one, we can’t (to quote esteemed former Congressman and Research!America Chair Emeritus John Porter) sit on our hands. We need to make the case. 

Congressional appropriations staff are busy laying the groundwork now for action in September aimed at completing the FY20 budget. On the Senate side, the Labor-HHS bill (which funds NIH, CDC, and AHRQ) could be among the first bills appropriators consider when they return from August recess. Tweet appropriations leaders about the importance of robust research funding.

We’ll be covering the appropriations landscape and other pending issues during our monthly alliance member call, which is taking place at 11:00 a.m. on Tuesday, September 3.  We’re also holding an in-person alliance meeting at 12:00 p.m. on Monday, September 23 with the lead congressional staff working to craft 21st Century Cures “2.0” legislation. Email Jacqueline at jlagoy@researchamerica.org for more info and/or to sign up for these events.

Also in September: our National Health Research Forum. One of the panels will explore the role cross-sector partnerships play in meeting major health challenges. The FDA’s recent approval of a new TB Alliance-developed regimen for drug resistant TB exemplifies the positive impact of these partnerships.

This all-too-rare victory against antimicrobial resistance and much-needed win in the battle to contain TB (which, despite advances in treatment and care, still kills about 1.3 million globally each year) brings to mind another of the Forum themes: Then, Now, Imagine. What’s standing in the way of faster progress against health threats like this one and what new answers may be on the horizon? The Forum is at capacity, but stay tuned for the livestream link!  

Less than a month remains for graduate student and postdoc-led science policy groups to submit applications for funding to the Research!America Civic Engagement microgrant program. This funding will help equip the next generation of scientists with the know-how to interact meaningfully with government officials and community leaders. Contact our Science Outreach Coordinator, Caitlin Grzeskowiak (cgrzeskowiak@researchamerica.org) with questions.

Sincerely,

 

Ellie Dehoney

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Without continued support for health research, many of the most promising young scientists, their ideas and a myriad of potentially life-changing scientific breakthroughs will vanish into oblivion.
Paul Marinec, PhD; University of California San Francisco