Mary Woolley's Weekly Letter: Special Gratitude Edition

Mary Woolley

Dear Research Advocate,

“Special” hardly begins to describe yesterday’s extraordinary Research!America Advocacy Awards. We recognized and honored truly inspiring leaders who have been trailblazers in science, public health, and advocacy. The video of the entire virtual event is available here for sampling or to enjoy start to finish! Some highlights:

  • President Joe Biden thanked the honorees for their “profoundly important” work and the broader scientific community for advancing human discovery. “As we work to put an end to the pandemic, Americans are seeing what matters. It matters that we lead with science and invest in research. It isn't just about COVID-19. We have a chance to alleviate so much pain and bring hope to so many people.”

  • Lester Holt, anchor of “NBC Nightly News” and “Dateline NBC” set the tone of gratitude, saying the Advocacy Awards were “an opportunity to express our appreciation for those among us who acted with speed, with resolve...They woke up every morning and fought.”

  • Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the NIH, introduced the second half of the program. “We have the confidence to call upon science to save the single patient with the rarest of diseases,” he said, “as well as to combat threats that pose a risk to every person on the planet.”

  • Pfizer’s Dr. Mikael Dolsten introduced the Building the Foundation honorees, Drs. Drew Weissman and Katalin Karikó, whose groundbreaking basic research discoveries played an essential role in the response to COVID-19. 

  • Edwin C. Whitehead Award for Medical Research Advocacy honoree Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) affirmed that “institutions like NIH need our full support.” Fellow Whitehead Award honoree Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) said she “look(s) forward to continuing to advocate for the research community and the increased participation of minority groups in STEM education and the workforce.”

  • Outstanding Achievement in Public Health Award recipient, Dr. Anthony Fauci, interviewed by Oprah Winfrey, thanked “the health care workers, the doctors, the nurses...who have worn themselves down in unimaginable conditions...we all owe them a really, really deep debt of gratitude.”

  • World-renowned Soprano Renée Fleming, an award recipient, teamed up with Dr. Collins for a moving rendition of “Hallelujah” to close the program.

Research!America extends our deepest gratitude to our Corporate Event Sponsor, Johnson & Johnson, and to all our sponsors, benefactors, and individual supporters who joined us in bringing this unprecedented program to our members and the wider public.  We thank you all.   

On the Hill: Two noteworthy legislative updates: the NSF for the Future Act (H.R.2225), a bipartisan bill introduced by one of our honorees, House Science Committee Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), along with Ranking Member Frank Lucas (R-OK), was marked up and reported out of the House Science Research and Technology Subcommittee by a unanimous voice vote. The Schumer/Young Endless Frontier Act was also marked up this week by the Senate Commerce Committee. After a lively discussion and a number of amendments, the bill was voted out of committee on a bipartisan basis. On Monday the Senate is expected to move forward with consideration of the legislation.

We will keep you informed as these important bills move through their respective chambers and, we trust, to conference. Congress is on the move in assuring a science strong future. 

Bipartisan Take on the American Jobs Plan: Former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, MD, along with Harlan M. Krumholz, MD, and David Beier have written a compelling bipartisan blog post about a vitally important part of the American Jobs Plan. The blog outlines how $250 billion would be used to bolster the U.S. research community, creating jobs and more equitable opportunities, helping the nation continue as an R&D leader on the global stage. Read the post here.

WMPD in Science and Engineering: Wednesday was WMPD Day, a celebration of women, minorities, and persons with disabilities who are effecting change in STEM as well as an opportunity to share resources to overcome the remaining hurdles in fostering an inclusive STEM workforce. The day coincided with the release of the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics’ (NCSES) biennial Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering report, here

Say Thank You: Among the many groups of professionals working around the clock to respond to the pandemic and bring life-saving therapies to patients are the employees of the FDA. The Food and Drug Law Institute (FDLI) is organizing a virtual thank you. Please consider signing the card.

Alliance Member Meeting Recap: On Monday, Jennifer Cama, Majority Clerk of the U.S. House Appropriations Labor-H Subcommittee joined us for an off-the-record conversation about FY22 appropriations and other issues.

Upcoming Alliance Member Meetings: 

  • On Thursday, May 20 at 10 a.m. ET, The Honorable Bart Gordon (U.S. Representative, 1985-2011), former Chair and Ranking Member of the House Science Committee, will join us for a conversation about how lessons from ARPA-E, which he played a lead role in establishing, can be applied to support the success of ARPA-H. Register here.

  • On Tuesday, May 25 at 2 p.m. ET, we will hear from Lainie Rutkow, JD, PhD, of the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, one of our honorees. Dr. Rutkow will discuss the impetus behind this critical pandemic resource and how the Center continues to stay in the moment. Register here.

Stay well, stay safe, and stay connected.

Mary Woolley

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America’s economic destiny lies in innovation, technology, science and research.
The Honorable John E. Porter