Mary Woolley's Weekly Letter: Progress is a Process

Mary Woolley

Dear Research Advocate,

Countdown: Research!America’s 2022 Advocacy Awards program is less than a week away. If you haven’t already, register now to join this virtual program, taking place Wednesday, March 16, from 4 – 6 p.m. ET. In a series of informal conversations, we’ll hear from our honorees and such guests as Congressman Tom Cole (R-OK) , Congressman Kweisi Mfume (D-MD), and Senator Barbara Mikulski (Ret.).

There is so much to highlight, but as our nation continues to take in the enormity of the pandemic still upon us, let me call out our Outstanding Achievement in Public Health Awards, generously supported by Johnson & Johnson. Public health extends far beyond one pandemic, as do the contributions of the honorees under this category (and all) of our awards. That said, the significance of science and practice of public health has never been more apparent than during this global crisis.

Also note we’ve kept some surprises in store! Thanks to the generosity of sponsors and benefactors, this virtual event is free and open to all.

On the Hill: Yesterday, the House and Senate released the bipartisan Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2022, an omnibus spending plan for FY22 that includes much needed increases for federal agencies involved in medical and public health research. The House passed the bill Wednesday evening, and the Senate is expected to pass it by early next week after another short-term continuing resolution.

Read our statement on the Omnibus and join us for an alliance member meeting this Monday, March 14, from 1 – 1:45 pm ET to discuss the many significant implications of this appropriations funding package.

There is no doubt that the Administration and authorizers and appropriators on both sides of the aisle have fought tooth and nail to expand science and technology funding and capacity. Unfortunately, the federal government isn’t yet investing in S&T broadly at the level needed to stay globally competitive.

As a share of the U.S. economy, federal investment in S&T has been trending downward for decades; we’re certainly not going to solve the problem in one appropriations cycle. But we and many others are in it for the long haul. As part of the Science Technology Action Committee (STAC), we will continue working together with Congress and the Administration to make this vital commitment to our economic future. Engage in STAC’s campaign with tools and resources on Twitter and LinkedIn!

More on the Hill: The Senate HELP Committee is scheduled to mark up its pandemic preparedness legislation at 10 a.m. ET on March 15. Chair Patty Murray (D-WA) and Ranking Member Richard Burr (R-NC) modified the previously released discussion draft significantly before introducing S.3799. The HELP Committee is also expected to mark up ARPA-H legislation. As noted in our statement on the omnibus, ARPA-H would be funded at $1 billion in FY22.

We’ll cover these topics, too, during the Monday alliance member meeting. Another good reason to register for the meeting now if your organization is a Research!America alliance member; if not, contact Anna Platt to discuss joining our organizational alliance.

Women’s History Month: Yesterday, I had the privilege of participating in the “Influential Women in HealthCare” series hosted by patient-advocate extraordinaire Donna Cryer, JD, whose GLI Live program now enters its third year. GLI, the Global Liver Institute, is dedicated to helping patients with liver diseases and advocating for the research, innovation and collaboration necessary to eradicate these diseases worldwide. Watch the conversation.

What do liver disease research and public office have in common? Short answer: serving the public’s interest. In an insightful Nature essay this week, epidemiologist and former Vice President of Taiwan Chen Chien-jen – who researched liver disease earlier in his career – draws instructive connections about how science serves the public’s interest and how science and society can and must work hand-in-hand to build a stronger future. It is an important reminder that the U.S. would be well-served to have more scientists in public office!

ICYMI: Watch our conversation with Research!America Board Member Darío Gil, PhD, Senior Vice President and Director of Research at IBM. He opened with a brief presentation summing up the current state of quantum computing and, in an engaging Q&A, addressed how this advance will impact near term medical research and a host of other fields. He brings incredible enthusiasm, grounded in extraordinary expertise.

Remember: We look forward to seeing you at the Advocacy Awards on March 16 – we’ll be inspired (again) together!

Stay well, stay safe, and stay connected. 

Mary Woolley

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We have health challenges in this country that science will provide answers for if given the chance and we haven't given science that opportunity
Mary Woolley, President and CEO, Research!America