Mary Woolley's Weekly Letter: Praise, Engage, Advocate

Mary Woolley

Dear Research Advocate,

We have exciting news! Research!America’s 2021 Advocacy Awards program on Thursday, May 13 from 4-6 p.m. ET will feature Oprah Winfrey in an exclusive interview with honoree Dr. Tony Fauci. Other special guests Lester Holt, Anchor of NBC Nightly News and Dateline NBC, and NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins will be among those recognizing an extraordinary group of awardees. Don’t miss it! 

Register here for the event and please spread the word among friends and colleagues. Thanks to the generosity of our sponsors, the event is free to all. If you would like to make a gift in recognition of the honorees, which will help support Research!America’s efforts to speed medical and public health progress, please visit our donation page. We truly appreciate your partnership.

On the Hill: The FY22 appropriations process is well underway in both chambers of Congress. In the Senate, two "Dear Colleagues" are being circulated, asking Senators to sign onto letters supporting strong funding for NIH and AHRQ in FY22 (NIH letter text here; AHRQ letter text here). Use this editable email to ask your Senators to champion faster medical, public health, and scientific progress and sign onto both letters.

In another legislative effort, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) has announced that he is drafting legislation on prescription drug pricing reform. Chairman Wyden is reportedly starting from ground zero, which gives advocates an opportunity to help advance affordability strategies that serve the public good. More to come on this.

Civic Engagement: Speaking of advancing the public good…Whether the goal is evidence-based policy-making, improving trust in science, or elevating science and technology (S&T) among government priorities, it is more important than ever for scientists across the nation to strengthen their commitment to civic engagement. 

A new searchable database developed by the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University identifies scientists, engineers, and health professionals who have made this commitment by serving as state legislators. That’s the good news; the bad news is that collectively, they represent only 3% of state legislators nationwide, and in some states, it’s even less. 

To ensure science has a stronger policy voice, we must work together to raise this meager percentage. Consider running for public office yourself by getting involved in your local school board or another community position. Think of the difference your voice could make for science! A terrific source of information for local involvement is the group Engineers and Scientists Acting Locally.

Building Back Smarter: As the COVID-19 crisis continues to claim countless lives around the globe, efforts are underway in Congress and at the National Academies to capture lessons learned in real time that can be applied to other ongoing and future health threats. Last week, Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Richard Burr (R-NC) released a “Dear Colleague” letter announcing discussions on improving America’s pandemic preparedness, with the goal of introducing bipartisan legislation this fall. 

Starting Tuesday, May 18, the National Academy of Medicine is hosting a series of workshops entitled “COVID-19 Lessons to Inform Pandemic Influenza Response.” These workshops will feature health professionals, scientific experts, and others to discuss the post-pandemic future. Register to attend here

These efforts fully align with public sentiment: a recent survey commissioned by Research!America shows that 70% of Americans believe the pandemic has revealed that “major changes are needed in our public health systems.” See our 2021 poll data summary for other relevant insights. 

Building Back Stronger: Earlier today, the House Science Committee’s Subcommittee on Research and Technology held a second hearing NSF. The discussion was wide-ranging, covering the National Science Foundation for the Future Act, the Endless Frontier Act, and the case for fueling NSF to play an even larger role in meeting our nation’s needs in the S&T and STEM education arenas. If you missed the hearing, view it here.

Alliance Member Meeting Updates: During a terrific alliance member meeting earlier today, National Cancer Institute Director Dr. Ned Sharpless shared insights about what it will take to dramatically reduce the cancer mortality rate, the Institute’s work in COVID-19-related research, and more. He also touched on the potential role the President’s ARPA-H proposal could play in accelerating progress against cancer. View the recording here.

If your organization is a member of the Research!America alliance, join us on Monday, May 10 at 1 p.m. ET for an off-the-record conversation with Jennifer Cama, the Majority Clerk of the U.S. House Appropriations Labor-H Subcommittee. Register here.


Stay well, stay safe, and stay connected.  


Mary Woolley

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If concerted, long-term investments in research are not made, America will lose an entire generation of young scientists.
Brenda Canine, PhD; McLaughlin Research Institute, Montana