Mary Woolley's Weekly Letter: Perseverance and Resilience

Mary Woolley

Dear Research Advocate,

Perseverance and resilience anchor us as we navigate this pandemic. The recent landing of the Perseverance rover on Mars exemplifies the tenacity and commitment underlying breakthrough discoveries in science and technology.

COVID-19 Therapeutics: Thanks to the perseverance of extraordinary academic and private sector researchers around the world, we now have an array of therapeutics available for a disease that a year ago was just entering the public consciousness. Earlier today, we hosted a virtual discussion focused on the what, when, and how behind COVID-19 interventions. If you were unable to join us today, I promise you will find the conversation informative, inspiring, and thought-provoking. Also, take a moment to take a look at and share this companion infographic, which provides a quick review of the COVID-19 treatment landscape.

Recognizing HBCU Researchers: The National Science Foundation (NSF) highlighted the perseverance and resilience of preeminent Black researchers at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in “Black Scientists & Engineers at Our Nation’s HBCUs: Making American History Now.” The panelists offered key insights into HBCUs’ contributions to their local economies and roles in advancing S&T innovations. Keep an eye on the NSF website, where the lecture will soon be posted. Many of the policy professionals we feature in our #BlackInSciPol video spotlights attended an HBCU.  

As Dr. Kafui Dzirasa said in our recent alliance member meeting, diversifying science causes “the best cures, the best outcomes, the best research to happen.” Along those lines, the NIH Advisory Committee to the Director is hosting a virtual meeting tomorrow, February 26, 3 - 5:30 p.m. ET on NIH efforts to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion. Dr. M. Roy Wilson, Research!America Board Member and President of Wayne State University, will speak about scientific workforce diversity. 

Honoring Policymakers Who Fight for Life-saving Progress: Every year, Research!America presents the Edwin C. Whitehead Award for Medical Research Advocacy to recognize key Congressional leaders who are champions for fast-paced medical and scientific progress. This year, we are pleased to honor Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX). Read more about these extraordinary leaders here.

On Capitol Hill: The House is expected to vote in the next day or so on the $1.9T COVID-19 relief package. There is no funding in the bill to close COVID-19 engendered research gaps, but that does not mean advocacy stops – Congress is at work on the next supplemental package, which will reportedly focus on creating jobs, bolstering infrastructure, and strengthening the economy. Reinforcing our nation’s research capacity meets each of these objectives.  

The American public understands the connection between research and the economy. In a survey we commissioned last month, Americans overwhelmingly said they believe investing in research is important for economic growth. Reach out to your Members of Congress and encourage them to champion funding for NIH and other research agencies in the next COVID-19 package.

Science: The Endless Frontier: 

Policy Imperatives: More and more, policymakers are recognizing the need to invest in our nation’s research future. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has indicated that he will soon introduce legislation based on the Schumer-Young Endless Frontier Act (S.3832). This legislation, introduced in the last Congress, focuses on significantly bolstering the nation’s economically crucial technological capacity. The objectives of this forward-thinking legislation helped inspire, and factor importantly into, the Science & Technology Action Plan. The “S-TAP” is designed to markedly expand and strategically leverage science and technology against the range of threats to our nation and global community. Please consider endorsing the Action Plan.

Young Researchers: Young science advocates are an important part of assuring a resilient and innovative S&T ecosystem. As part of a series on Vannevar Bush’s Science: the Endless Frontier, the Journal of Science Policy and Governance will host a webinar tomorrow, February 26, at 3 p.m. ET during which young leaders in advocacy will discuss strategies for engaging with communities and promoting scientific discovery. Register here.

Upcoming Alliance Member Meetings: 

  • Tomorrow, Friday, March 26, at 2:30 p.m. ET, join a conversation with Sherie Lou Santos, Health Policy Director for Congresswoman Diana DeGette (D-CO) and Mark Ratner, Deputy Chief of Staff for Congressman Fred Upton (R-MI). Sherie Lou and Mark will speak with us about the RISE Act, 21st Century Cures 2.0, and other timely topics. Register here.

  • Tuesday, March 2, at 1 p.m. ET, we host John Burklow, NIH Associate Director for Communications and Public Liaison, who will speak about communicating the value of medical and public health progress and the agency’s 2021 priorities. Register here.

  • Thursday, March 4, at 1:45 p.m. ET, Dr. Anne Schuchat, Principal Deputy Director of the CDC, will speak about the ongoing pandemic response and other CDC imperatives. Register here. Dr. Schuchat will be honored at this year’s Advocacy Awards on April 14, 2021, from 4-6 p.m. ET. 

Stay well, stay safe, and stay connected.  

Sincerely,

Mary Woolley

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Luck shouldn't play a role in why I'm alive.
Laurie MacCaskill, a seven-year pancreatic cancer survivor