Mary Woolley's Weekly Letter: First Lady Jill Biden

Mary Woolley

Dear Research Advocate, 

Our National Health Research Forum kicks off on Monday, September 13, at 10:30 a.m. ET. We’re excited to announce that the event will open with remarks from First Lady Jill Biden, setting the tone for an extraordinary three days! There is no fee — everyone is welcome and there will be plenty of opportunities for attendees to join in the discussions. Register now, read through our amazing agenda, and log in starting tomorrow to check out the virtual environment!

On the Hill: With the federal fiscal year ending on 9/30, September is always a very busy month in Washington. House Energy and Commerce Committee Democrats have released a summary of the legislative package the Committee will consider next week. There are many laudable proposals, including allocating $50 billion for bolstering U.S. public health capacity and preparedness.

As anticipated, the proposal also includes H.R.3, legislation that focuses on prescription drug pricing reforms. We continue to believe the Committee should pursue a systems approach to healthcare affordability rather than targeting only one piece of the puzzle. There is so much opportunity here to secure sustained reductions in healthcare costs by bringing together experts from across the healthcare system and leveraging economic modeling and other research tools to assess which actions would best serve patients and the public good. We have shared this perspective with Committee leadership and will continue to make the case.

Pandemic preparedness is one of the reconciliation package focal points, and the White House has released “American Pandemic Preparedness: Transforming Our Capabilities,” a $65 billion proposal aimed at “transform(ing) U.S. capabilities to respond rapidly and effectively to any future pandemic or any high consequence biological threat.” 

More on Response, Preparedness, and Bold Action: White House OSTP Director Eric Lander and NIH Director Francis Collins will participate in our Forum next week, with two topics on the docket: an update on the pandemic response and a deep dive into “ARPA-H,” the President’s proposal for a new health innovation incubator. Expect compelling (and, if history is any guide, hard-hitting) questions from NBC News Senior Washington Correspondent Hallie Jackson, who will interview these leaders. (Sept. 13, 2:40 p.m. ET).

Register now for the Forum to join Lander, Collins, and Jackson, and to be part of many other discussions on what more our nation can do to face down major health threats:

  • Dr. Alok Patel will lead a roundtable on outsmarting antimicrobial resistance. (Sept. 13, 10:45 a.m.)

  • PBS NewsHour's Lisa Desjardins will have a conversation with CDC Director Rochelle Walensky about the range of public health threats confronting our nation and the global health community, and how to defeat them. (Sept. 14, 10:30 a.m.)

  • Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla will discuss “A New Pandemic Paradigm” with Research!America Board Chair Susan Dentzer. (Sept. 14, 10:50 a.m.)

  • Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb will talk with CNBC’s Meg Tirrell about the expected trajectory of COVID-19 and pandemic preparedness imperatives. (Sept. 14, 11:10 a.m.)

  • Peter Marks, Director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research at the FDA, will have a conversation with Research!America Board Member and FDLI CEO Amy Comstock Rick about the regulatory challenges entailed in rapidly delivering safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines to the public. (Sept. 15, 2 p.m.)

  • Former CDC Director Tom Frieden and Fox News medical contributor Dr. Janette Nesheiwat will discuss stepping up the pace of pandemic preparedness. (Sept. 15, 2:26 p.m.)

Golden Goose Awards: AAAS will host the 2021 Golden Goose Award Ceremony virtually on September 22 at 4 p.m. ET. The annual award honors "federally funded research with silly-sounding or obscure beginnings that has gone on to have enormous societal impact." The award helps demonstrate the enormous value of foundational scientific research. RSVP by Tuesday, September 21.

Speaking of Awards... Last spring we honored Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), with the Research!America 2021 Outstanding Achievement for Public Health Award. During the Forum next week, Dr. Fauci will be interviewed by early career researcher and DEI advocate Dr. Alexandra Colón-Rodríguez, a postdoctoral scientist at the University of California Davis. Knowing Alex, this will not be the typical interview. Tune in!

In related news: National Geographic’s ”Fauci” documentary will be released tomorrow and early reviews are overwhelmingly positive.

Alliance Recap: Today, Dr. Rima F. Khabbaz, director of the National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases at CDC, joined alliance members for a conversation that shed light on the fight against infectious disease threats and the need to shore up capacity in public health and research, including and beyond COVID-19. Did you miss it? Watch here.

Upcoming Alliance Meeting: Join us on September 20 at 1 p.m. ET for a conversation with Aisling McDonough, Senior Advisor for Health Policy, and Emma B. Alme, PhD, Public Policy Fellow from the office of Congresswoman Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA). Aisling and Emma, who are supporting the Chairwoman’s leadership role on ARPA-H, will provide an update on ARPA-H legislation and field audience questions.

Stay well, stay safe, and stay connected.

Sincerely,

Mary Woolley

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Without research, there is no hope.
The Honorable Paul G. Rogers