Mary Woolley's Weekly Letter: Fogging the Lens

Mary Woolley

Dear Research Advocate,

On (but mostly off) Capitol Hill: Neither the House nor Senate is expected to reconvene until after Labor Day. As things stand, it may be late September before a final COVID-19 emergency spending package takes shape. The longer the delay on that front, the greater the chances that a continuing resolution (CR) will be attached, flat-funding the government until after (potentially long after) the November elections. 

Sound the Alarm: If this no-action update sounds all-too-familiar, that’s because it is. The push and pull of differing funding priorities and election-year politics are fogging the lens such that the most important consideration – the crying need for emergency spending to help relieve human suffering – has somehow lost its urgency. Couple that with FY21 budget stasis, even as every federal agency is expected to fulfill their normal roles in addition to addressing COVID-19 related needs, and what we have is a seismic misalignment between American expectations and government action. That’s unacceptable – and so is silence by advocates.

Speak up now. Speak up again tomorrow. Make the case for what is needed and what is right. Send this editable email to your Senators and Representative and/or use this editable tweet to Congressional leadership. 

Alliance Member Meeting: The past two weeks of party conventions signal the final stretch of the election season. Tomorrow, August 28, 2020, at 11 a.m. ET, we’ll be hosting an alliance member meeting to provide a sneak peek of our Vote Science Strong campaign. The campaign provides tools for science-focused voters to engage candidates on why our nation needs science-strong leaders. During the second half of the meeting, we’ll take a closer look at the aforementioned federal funding dynamics and provide a quick update on other current R&D-related issues. If your organization is a Research!America alliance member, register for the meeting here.

Leadership By Scientific Societies: Scientific societies are playing a pivotal role in the COVID-19 response. The American Society for Microbiology (ASM) and the Federation of Associations in Behavioral & Brain Sciences (FABBS) are circulating a sign-on letter about science societies’ contributions and the insights gleaned from their work to help inform NSF’s COVID-19 task force. Scientific societies can sign on here. Please email Allen Segal asegal@asmusa.org if your organization has examples to share. The deadline for signing on is COB Tuesday, September 1, 2020.

Speak Up: On September 1, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine opens a four-day public comment period to help shape the framework for their report on equitable allocation of COVID-19 vaccines. Register here to comment and here for a public listening session.

Securing a Science-Strong Future: If you haven’t registered for our 2020 Virtual National Health Research Forum, don’t delay. Watch and engage with R&D leaders and newsmakers from your own screen – free of charge – September 8-10, 2020.

One key theme of the Forum is the role public-private partnerships (PPPs) are playing in the COVID-19 response, and how to take the lessons learned from these partnerships to inform future pandemic response and speed progress against other health threats. In case you, like me, appreciate a little background reading (or in this case, watching), earlier this summer the National Academies held a terrific workshop on public-private collaborations. 

A Health Imperative: We are honored that the Honorable Dr. Louis W. Sullivan will be joining a panel at the Forum entitled “Health Equity: Making Measurable Change Happen.” The discussion will focus on what can be done now to address both the dramatic racial and ethnic disparities in COVID-19 outcomes and concrete strategies for overcoming the spectrum of deeply entrenched inequities in health and healthcare. (Don’t miss Dr. Sullivan’s recent op-ed on seizing the moment to abolish health inequities). See the full lineup and register here. Remember, this program is free and open to the public – please spread the word!  

Stay well, stay safe, and stay connected.

Sincerely,

Mary Woolley

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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