A Weekly Advocacy Letter From Mary Woolley: Calling all Candidates

Mary Woolley

Dear Research Advocate: 

With congressional primaries back in full swing -- four states held primaries this week alone, with five more to come this month -- we have fresh opportunities to ask candidates for national office what they would do, if elected, to speed medical progress and incentivize innovation. Check out our interactive map to see what your candidates have to say -- we have been adding quotes daily. This is important: if you don’t see your candidates on the record, please send them a message urging them to register their thoughts.

Research!America has joined ScienceDebate.org and other organizations to call on presidential candidates to respond to a questionnaire about scientific issues. It’s past time for the candidates to talk about how science fits among their priorities. We continue our outreach to the Republican nominee Donald Trump, who has not as yet fully addressed research and innovation. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton shared her plans for incentivizing technological innovation and scientific research in a Q&A session via Quora this week; saying she is “committed to ramping up our funding for biomedical research and development.” I discussed Clinton’s track record, and the Democratic platform’s stances on medical research, with The Lancet in a recent podcast, listen here (episode 8/4/16). 

Our August advocacy push, Save Lives. Support Cures., focuses this week on ‘development’ and how the Cures legislation spurs medical progress. Among the activities: Infectious Disease Society of America president, Johan Bakken, M.D., Ph.D., FIDSA, penned a timely guest blog post discussing antimicrobial resistance; we released the latest addition to the Research Saves Lives and Money fact sheet series, Diagnostics; and co-hosted a Twitter chat with the Association of Clinical Research Organizations (ACRO). Next week, we will focus on ‘delivery,’ and how the Cures legislation will address unmet medical needs and help those waiting for treatments and cures. Patients, please share your story, send messages and tweets, and make calls, your voice needs to be heard!

Advocates are also working to prevent a long-term continuing resolution (CR), which would flat fund government spending, effectively placing federal funding on autopilot as of October 1, endangering research and medical progress. Today, I sent a letter to House and Senate leadership on behalf of Research!America’s board and members, voicing our concerns about a long-term CR and urging them to focus on completing FY17 funding bills that adequately respond to Americans’ needs. 

Just in time to capture more public and policymaker attention to the benefits of research, Sigma Xi, the scientific research society, has launched the Research Communications Initiative, a new program to help researchers and institutions effectively tell the general public, administrators, and others about their work through various communications channels.
Finally, an example of the mismatch between public concerns and policymaker priorities is provided in a recent article in JAMA Ophthalmology featuring a survey commissioned by Research!America. These compelling data underscore how profoundly Americans fear loss of sight. The authors call on policymakers to provide robust funding to combat debilitating diseases that impact quality of life.


Mary Woolley


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If concerted, long-term investments in research are not made, America will lose an entire generation of young scientists.
Brenda Canine, PhD; McLaughlin Research Institute, Montana