Mary Woolley's Weekly Letter: Strength together
Dear Research Advocate,
Yesterday, we hosted a very popular webinar, Understanding the Landscape of COVID-19 Vaccine and Treatment R&D, featuring former FDA Commissioner Mark McClellan, Director of the Duke-Margolis Health Policy Center; Stefano Bertuzzi, CEO of the American Society for Microbiology; and former CDC Director Julie Gerberding, Executive Vice President and Chief Patient Officer, Strategic Communications, Global Public Policy and Population Health at Merck. All three are working tirelessly to combat COVID-19.
In speaking about current public-private research efforts, Dr. Gerberding emphasized: “This is the time we need the most openness, the most transparency, and the fastest track to dissemination and publication we can possibly sustain with good quality.” Dr. Bertuzzi discussed the diagnostic work ASM is doing at the request of Ambassador Birx and saluted the clinical microbiologists who are the “magic behind the curtain” of accurate diagnoses. Dr. McClellan noted that FDA staff are taking on new challenges as collaboratively and with as much communication as possible right now in executing their important role in the development of safe and effective new therapeutics and diagnostics. You can access the recording here.
Rural, urban, old, young, healthy, or not: COVID-19 affects us all. The racial health disparities exposed by the pandemic are glaring. Research!America board member and Wayne State University President Roy Wilson penned a call to action that includes assuring standardized national data collection and a culturally appropriate communication strategy. Eliminating health disparities is in everyone’s interest. Very high percentages of the public agree it’s time to put research, as well as policies, to work to make that happen. Read and share our new Health Disparities fact sheet and a relevant blog post here.
April is National Minority Health Month, organized by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD). Former Secretary of HHS and, in 2019, our John Edward Porter Legacy Awardee, Dr. Louis Sullivan is widely acknowledged as the champion of what eventually became the NIMHD. Dr. Sullivan will be joining us for an upcoming alliance member call to discuss how assuring health for all helps ensure a strong economy and vibrant nation.
Earlier this week, our alliance members joined us to hear Dr. Harvey Fineberg, President of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and Chair of the National Academies Standing Committee on Emerging Infectious Diseases discuss four crises caused by the pandemic: health, medical, economic, and social. The excellent half-hour recording is available here.
New and creative solutions are needed to address the long-standing “valley of death” in R&D investment. While that term usually refers to the challenge of securing financing for high-risk, high-reward translational research, the economic fallout from the pandemic is widening that gap to include later-stage R&D. During a virtual meeting we convened earlier today, the Foundation Fighting Blindness discussed legislation Congressman Sanford Bishop (D-GA-2) is developing to help de-risk investment in at-risk R&D. Here is a summary of the draft legislation. If you missed the meeting and would like to know more, email Sara firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Capitol Hill: Tonight, the House of Representatives passed a fourth COVID-19 legislative package, clearing the bill to be signed into law by President Trump. Funding was included for the CDC, NIH, BARDA, and FDA. For details, click here.
Call to Action: Representatives Diana DeGette (D-CO-1) and Fred Upton (R-MI-6) are circulating a “Dear Colleague” amongst their fellow members in the House urging them to sign onto a letter in support of $26 billion in COVID-19 relief for our nation’s federally-funded research enterprise. Read the letter and urge your Representative to support funding to maintain critical continuity in scientific and medical research!
Upcoming Alliance Member Call: On April 28, 2020, at 1:30 p.m. ET, Research!America is hosting an alliance member call with Donna Cryer, President and CEO, Global Liver Institute (GLI). Donna will update us on GLI's COVID-19 response program. Register here. After the presentation, we will brainstorm advocacy efforts and your ideas for alliance member speakers.
Opportunity for All: The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) is offering free registration for their Virtual Annual Meeting that will include a timely session detailing the impact of COVID-19 on patients with cancer. Register here for the April 27-28, 2020 meeting.
Stay well, stay safe, and stay connected.