Mary Woolley's Weekly Letter: Misinformation is Deadly

Mary Woolley

Dear Research Advocate,

Today, a Surgeon General’s Advisory was released on “Confronting Health Misinformation,” directing every American’s attention to the harm misinformation causes to individual and public health. Research!America applauds Surgeon General Murthy for calling on the nation to work together in a “whole of society” push to confront and build resilience against health misinformation. 

Relevant to the nation’s efforts to combat misinformation, Jen Easterly was sworn in on Tuesday as director of the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), after unanimous approval by the Senate. CISA houses a robust resource library to help combat mis, dis, and malinformation, including a COVID-19 disinformation toolkit.

Vaccine Development: While we keep COVID-19 and its surging variants in focus (read this excellent summary of everything related to Delta), we must not neglect other viral threats. Experience combatting the COVID-19 has fueled the development of dozens more mRNA vaccines aimed at protecting against a host of diseases, including seasonal flu. Here is an overview of mRNA vaccine technology and how it compares to current types of flu vaccines.

Thinking Globally: An era of new vaccines is an opportunity for clear health science communication. The recently-released “Aspen Global Congress on Scientific Thinking & Action Report” emphasizes the urgent need for global thinking, global science, and global action. A particularly timely section talks about defeating vaccine hesitancy through communication that starts with asking questions.

On the Hill: On the appropriations front, the House Appropriations Committee has marked-up several funding bills, including Labor-H, which includes robust funding increases for NIH, CDC, and AHRQ (use this editable Tweet to thank House Labor-H Subcommittee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Ranking Member Tom Cole (R-OK) for championing faster medical progress).

House Democrats are planning to put an appropriations “minibus” package of seven of the 12 appropriations bills, including Labor-H and Ag-FDA, on the House Floor by the end of the month. Use this editable email to ask your Representative to support the increased funding levels included in the bills.

In the Administration: White House OSTP has issued an RFI to improve federal scientific integrity policies. The deadline to submit is Wednesday, July 28, by 5 p.m. ET; instructions for submission are included in the link above.

Confronting roadblocks: An article in The New York Times looks at legislation Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL) and Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) introduced that would authorize a federal guarantee for loans addressing the “valley of death,” the distance between basic research and clinical trials that must be traversed to move an idea from the lab into a real-world treatment. If you missed our alliance member meeting about this bill, watch now. New thinking like that behind this legislation and ARPA-H will undoubtedly propel medical progress in significant ways.

Alliance Member Meeting Updates: Yesterday, Larry A. Tabak, DDS, PhD, Principal Deputy Director of NIH, and Tara A. Schwetz, PhD, Assistant Director for Biomedical Science Initiatives at OSTP, joined us for an alliance roundtable discussion on ARPA-H. The meeting was for members only; whether you participated or not, you might find this previous presentation by Dr. Schwetz of interest. (If your organization is not an alliance member, we need your input and advocacy now more than ever! Contact Katie Goode to learn more about membership.)

Earlier this week, Joni L. Rutter, PhD, Acting Director of the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), spoke with us about her vision for NCATS, which is marking its 10th anniversary. Watch her presentation.

Just announced: On Wednesday, July 28, at 1 p.m. ET, Jessica Drislane, CEO of OpenScholar LLC, and Jaime S. Rubin, PhD, Vice Chair for Investigator Development and Professor of Medical Sciences at Columbia University, will speak with us about different strategies for securing grant funding. Please register to join what is sure to be an informative session.

Science Saves Lives: This week is the final push in our summer giving campaign, Science Saves Lives. Many of you have already contributed (thank you!) to help us further intensify our advocacy efforts. Our nation is at a crossroads: Do we shift into higher gear and make science and technology a national imperative, or do we slip back, taking S&T for granted until the next crisis propels it into the spotlight? Help us convince federal leaders to assign S&T the strategic priority it so clearly merits. Be a part of a movement to carve out a greater role for science to expand the many ways it serves our nation and the public good. No gift is a small one. What is meaningful is your partnership.

Stay well, stay safe, and stay connected.

Sincerely,

Mary Woolley

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Funding research gives all of us a better chance of living a healthier life.
Pam Hirata, heart disease survivor