Mary Woolley's Weekly Letter: Walking the priority talk

Mary Woolley

Dear Research Advocate:

The impact of the partial government shutdown – now entering its second month – continues to reverberate across the U.S., causing individual suffering and squandering progress at the expense of us all. Research!America signed on to two letters highlighting ways this shutdown is affecting the critical roles of FDA and NSF, not to mention the individuals impacted by their life-saving work.

A picture (or graphic) is worth a thousand words: we have been using visuals via Twitter to make the case for ending the shutdown. I hope you’ll retweet and add your own voice to the conversation here.

As we continue to push for a resolution to the shutdown, we must also work to stand down threats to biomedical and public health research, including the return of ‘sequestration’ in FY20. If Congress and the White House do not take action to raise the smothering FY20 budget caps required by current law, it is possible that every federal agency and program will experience a cut of nearly 10% – for NIH that’s in the $4 billion range. Research!America and partners from across the science community are preparing to launch a sustained advertising and grassroots advocacy push in support of a balanced, bipartisan, budget deal. 

We need all hands on deck. Here are two reasons that your organization should join us in this push: 1) If the current shutdown impasse is foreshadowing, then securing a budget deal that provides comparable relief for both Defense and non-defense discretionary (NDD) spending is not just going to be a steep climb, it’s going to be an unscalable vertical ascent. 2) If the science community doesn’t mobilize to treat science like a top national priority, who will? The budget caps place our nation’s strategic priorities in jeopardy, and if scientific progress merits a top spot among those priorities, then the scientific enterprise should be front and center in the push for a caps deal. Forgive the cliche, but we need to “walk our talk.” We need to start soon, stay loud, and be part of the reason those caps are raised.

If we work together, we can have real and visible impact when it counts most. Email Ellie (edehoney@researchamerica.org) to join us in raising the caps!

The House Oversight Committee has scheduled its first hearing on drug pricing for Tuesday, January 29. According to reports, the Senate Finance Committee has also scheduled a hearing on that topic the same day, and the Energy & Commerce oversight subcommittee is planning to hold hearings in the near future. Check out this article from STAT for more on these developments. Our next alliance member meeting will dig more deeply into the drug pricing proposals surfacing this year. More next week on this...

Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) plans to introduce a resolution recognizing January 25, 2019 as Women’s Health Research Day. Research!America has signed on in support of the resolution, which notes that women, though comprising a majority of the U.S. population, remain underrepresented in biomedical and clinical research. A more inclusive research system is crucial if we are to make progress against serious health threats in a manner that reaches and benefits us all.  

Speaking of women in research, this opportunity may be of interest: the 2019 L’Oréal USA For Women in Science fellowship program is accepting applications until Friday, February 1, 2019. The fellowship, open to female PhD level scientists, empowers researchers at a critical stage in their career with a focus on building leaders for the next generation of women in STEM. Check out this flyer for more information.

Sincerely,

Mary Woolley

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