Mary Woolley's Weekly Letter: Stewardship and Leadership

Mary Woolley

Dear Research Advocate,

Earth Day: Today, people around the world are taking action to better the environment and our planet. As the public clearly recognizes, threats to the environment are threats to our health. Check out this evidence-based resource from The Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health detailing the links between climate change and health. 

On the Hill: President Biden will give his first address to a joint session of Congress next Wednesday. If the Administration’s initial budget proposal is any indication, he will highlight the importance of robust investment in science & technology. In that context...

Take Action Now: The President’s infrastructure package includes $70 billion to be distributed across federal R&D agencies. An immediate infrastructure need is to restore COVID-19-eroded research funding. Use this editable tweet to make the case to the President and Congressional leadership. 

Endless Frontier Act (EFA) Update: Another important development in the R&D arena is the reintroduction (with bipartisan support) of the Schumer/Young Endless Frontier Act. The legislation would add a Technology and Innovation Directorate to NSF and authorize $100 billion for the directorate over five years. The bill would also authorize $10 billion for regional technology hubs. The new bill reflects the recommendations of key science & technology leaders. You can read the bill text here and a summary here

Nominations Watch: The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee will hold a confirmation hearing for Dr. Eric Lander, President Biden’s nominee for OSTP Director, on Thursday, April 29, 10 a.m. ET. If Dr. Lander is confirmed by the Senate, he would be the first life scientist to hold this position, and the first director to be part of the President’s cabinet. Research!America submitted a letter in support of Dr. Lander, who received our Sustained Leadership at the National Level Award in 2004. Contact Ellie if we can be of assistance.

Lifting Research Restrictions: Last week, the Administration eliminated an additional layer of restrictions imposed on extramural fetal tissue research in 2019. As part of a coalition led by Research!America member organization the International Society of Stem Cell Research, we met with the former Administration to argue against these restrictions and urged the new Administration to lift them. Learn more about the importance of fetal tissue and stem cell research on our updated web page.

Sign-On Opportunities (deadline tomorrow):

  • The Endocrine Society is circulating a letter in support of the Research Investment to Spark the Economy (RISE) Act. To read the letter and sign on, use this link.

  • AAAS, AGU, and APS are circulating a letter urging appropriators to ensure individual research projects continue to be subject to competitive peer review rather than being funded via earmarks. To read the letter and sign on, use this link

Alliance Member Recap: This week’s alliance member meeting focused on two issues that compel our nation to step up:

Bottlenecks in Biomedical R&D Financing: We hosted Lauren Citron, Congressman Bobby Rush's (D-IL) Legislative Director; Benjamin Yerxa, CEO of Foundation Fighting Blindness; and Karen Petrou, Managing Partner of Federal Financial Analytics, Inc. to discuss Congressman Rush’s “Biobonds” legislation, which, like the President’s ARPA-H proposal, targets the “valley of death” in R&D financing. If you missed the discussion, which included the Congressman himself via a prerecorded video, check it out here.

Looking Back; Planning Forward: That same link will take you to the second half of our meeting, during which we heard from Dr. Albert Ruenes, a front-line surgeon at a community hospital in Doylestown, PA. Dr. Ruenes gave us a first hand account of what it has been like being a doctor in the midst of a pandemic, from the challenge of assimilating research findings into treatment protocols in real time to the heartbreaking loss of patients. 

Upcoming Alliance Meetings: Mark your calendars: 

  • On Wednesday, April 28 at 1 p.m. ET, Dr. Carolyn Clancy, Acting Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs, will speak with us about the VA’s research priorities, COVID-19-related and beyond. Emily Holubowich, Vice President of Federal Advocacy with the American Heart Association, will also join us to disentangle the complexity of federal spending bills currently in play. Register here.

  • On Thursday, May 6 at 2:30 p.m. ET, join us for a conversation with Dr. Ned Sharpless, Director of the National Cancer Institute. Register here

Honoring Advocates: Our annual Advocacy Awards program will take place on May 13, 2021 from 4-6 p.m. ET. In addition to our remarkable honorees, we will hear from several special guests, including NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins, NBC Nightly News Anchor Lester Holt, and others to be announced. We hope you will join us for what will be a meaningful and memorable event. Register here.

Stay well, stay safe, and stay connected.  

Sincerely,

Mary Woolley

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You can change the image of things to come. But you can’t do it sitting on your hands … The science community should reach out to Congress and build bridges.
The Honorable John E. Porter