A weekly advocacy letter from Mary Woolley: What are we waiting for?

Mary Woolley

Dear Research Advocate:

That so many well-informed patient advocates are working for House passage of the 21st Century Cures bill (H.R. 6) is an excellent indication of just how important this legislation is to all of us looking for answers to what (literally) ails us.  This makes it all the more puzzling that there aren’t more supporters weighing in from the science community. It may be because many don’t know about the bill yet -- a preliminary report from a poll of scientists we have in the field right now shows that only one in 5 members of the science community say they have heard of the bill.  If you are a researcher and a regular reader of this letter, I know you know about it!  Will you consider reaching out to four colleagues in the science community to urge them to check it out? 

Because we know some of you have questions about the bill, we’ve asked Energy and Commerce Committee staff to meet with Research!America members.  This 45-minute session (and conference call for those of you who can’t attend in person) will be held on Tuesday, June 9 at 10:00 AM at the Offices of Holland and Knight, 800 17th Street, NW.  Ellie will send call-in information soon; in the interim, please send her an email if you can join us, at edehoney@researchamerica.org.

Please don’t choose to sit on the sidelines now, when we haven’t seen anything like this level of bipartisan leadership and broad Congressional support for medical research in a decade. Spread the word and help secure cosponsors and House passage. It is easy to send an editable email to your member of Congress asking them to step up.  Also consider taking a moment to thank the current bill cosponsors -- click here for the up-to-date list of co-sponsors. And click here and here for articles about the 21st Century Cures debate.

Yesterday, the House passed the Commerce, Justice and Science (CJS) appropriations bill. The bill would fund the National Science Foundation at $7.39 billion in FY 2016, a $50 million increase over FY15, and about $330 million below the president’s budget request. The bill would cut funding for Social, Behavioral and Economics research. Neither that cut, nor the very limited overall increase, serves the nation’s interest. If you would like to work with us to make sure the Senate bill hits the mark, please get in touch!

On Monday this week, Research!America hosted Dave Kappos, Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) from 2009 to 2013, for a conference call with Research!America members.  Dave discussed the patent reform bills pending in Congress.  Clearly, the outcome of the current debate bears significantly on the ability of  innovators in every sector to obtain and protect legitimate patents.  Dave agreed to put together a written summary of the issues, along with thoughts on concrete actions you can take to influence the debate.  I’ll get that to anyone interested when we have it!

One final item:  The White House Office of Technology Policy (OSTP) has created a hashtag, #BasicResearch, to capture examples of game-changing basic research.  I encourage you to read Associate Director for Science Jo Handelsman’s blog on the topic and contribute to the conversation!


Mary Woolley

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We have health challenges in this country that science will provide answers for if given the chance and we haven't given science that opportunity
Mary Woolley, President and CEO, Research!America