A Weekly Advocacy Message From Mary Woolley: Big week
Dear Research Advocate:
This has been an important week for research, innovation and the power of advocacy. The Senate Appropriations Committee passed the Labor-H bill, which funds NIH, CDC and AHRQ, among other programs. The bill includes a well-justified, but nonetheless remarkable, $2 billion increase for NIH in FY17. However, CDC and AHRQ both receive cuts in the bill ($118 million and $10 million, respectively). While we applaud Chairman Blunt (R-MO), Ranking Member Murray (D-WA) and the Committee as a whole for their extraordinary determination to regrow the NIH budget, underinvesting in CDC and AHRQ is a costly mistake. Read our statement on the bill.
It is important to note that this Senate action is one step of many in the appropriations process, so there is certainly time for advocates to influence the the final outcome. We will continue to advocate for a holistic approach when it comes to advancing health through research. Want to brainstorm with us? Let me know!
We have new proof that advocacy works: an amendment to protect Department of Defense (DoD) research in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) passed the Senate with a two-thirds majority (66-32). A diverse array of organizations united in the advocacy campaign I referenced last week, and the effort was influential in removing language from NDAA that would not only have limited the scope of DoD research, but also added unnecessary delays and administrative burden to the system. I heard from many of you that you played a part - thank you!
Thank you also to all who joined us for a #CuresNOW day of advocacy on Tuesday urging Senate action on the Cures legislation. We used Thunderclap - a virtual flash mob with synchronized tweets and Facebook messages - for the first time, with the response exceeding our expectations. Advocates also called and emailed the Senate with their support for getting the job done on the Cures package (more than 1,000 emails alone!). I will keep you apprised of developments related to the Cures bill - a potential path forward could be the opioid legislative package. In the meantime and in case you haven’t seen it, here is a Congressional Research Service report on the legislation. While a bit wonky, it is the most comprehensive analysis I’ve seen to date.
On Monday, several of us were in Ohio for a forum on the economic impact of research, co-hosted with Research!America member and partner Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED). The discussion was robust and ranged from public-private partnerships to the critical role research will play in Ohio’s future economic growth and health. Three members of Congress attended in person and three others provided substantive comments by video. Eight university presidents and many industry leaders also participated. See the coverage in Crain’s Cleveland Business and on NPR.
On Wednesday at the BIO Convention in San Francisco, two Research!America board members provided a high-content, intellectually stimulating discussion on the aspirations and implications of precision medicine, driving relentlessly toward a “World Without Disease.” UCSF Vice Chancellor Dr. Keith Yamamoto interviewed the global head of Janssen Research & Development, Dr. William Hait. They discussed “immorbidity,” healthspan vs. lifespan, the power of technology-driven diagnostics, the ever-increasing ability to make sense of data across many fields, and the importance of shoring up the behavioral sciences. And much more. There are exciting, paradigm-shifting roles right now for every component of the research ecosystem - academia, industry, patients, philanthropy, and government. Advocates, too!