A weekly advocacy message from Mary Woolley: Keep the ball rolling

Mary Woolley

Dear Research Advocate,

Research!America is on the Hill and in the media continuing to make the case for timely action in Congress to boost medical progress. I appreciated the opportunity to discuss the 21st Century Cures Act and the Senate’s Innovation initiative in a recent issue of Roll Call. The bottom line is this: we need to keep this ball rolling. Congress has a notoriously short attention span - too many issues, not enough time - so advocates should not only be pushing for what they want to see in the Senate bill, they should be pushing to see a Senate bill ASAP.
Unless you’ve managed to steer clear of all forms of media in recent days, you probably know that the first official Republican Presidential debate takes place this afternoon and evening in Cleveland, Ohio. During his remarks at a Fix the Debt pre-debate event this morning, 2016 Republican National Convention co-chair Sandy Cutler noted that there are many important priorities in which the federal government invests.  Research and education were the two priorities he highlighted. (A special thanks to Northeastern Ohio Medical University (NEOMED) President and Research!America Board Member Jay Gershen for attending the event and putting a bug in Sandy’s ear during their conversation prior to the program!). 

It is this kind of outreach that can bring science-related issues out of the shadows during the 2016 election cycle. A timely Science Advisory Board survey asked American scientists: 1) whether, during tonight’s debate, the presidential candidates should discuss science and technology -- nearly 92% answered “yes”; and 2) whether they actually would discuss science and technology - about 90% answered “no.”  I hope this fatalism, understandable as it is, gives way to action. Research!America is partnering with organizations like Science Debate to push for science-related questions at every presidential forum. One way to get involved: Sign the Science Debate petition here.

Voters need to know whether candidates would leverage scientific discovery or sideline it. And if someone wants to represent us in Washington, they should be prepared to share their strategy for speeding medical progress. But once again, chances are that other national priorities will command their attention...unless Americans demand otherwise. I hope you will partner with Research!America in a pull-out-all-the-stops national voter education initiative aimed at making the fight for cures a top election year issue. More to come on that…

Another important chance to weigh in: NIH is hosting three webinars to provide the public an opportunity to hear about and ask questions regarding the Institutes-wide strategic plan. The first webinar was yesterday, but there are two other dates and times: Tuesday, August 11, 3:30-5:30 ET and Thursday, August 13, 4:00-5:30 ET. You can register here, and submit comments to help guide the planning process here.

One more item for your to do list: Take a moment to register for Research!America’s 2015 National Health Research Forum here. As always, our forum features leaders from government, academia, patient advocacy and industry, who will weigh in on current issues in research (where are breakthroughs like CRISPR truly taking us?), innovation (what’s in the cards for PDUFA VI?), and public health (is our nation up to challenges like antimicrobial resistance, pandemic preparedness, and the rise in complex and costly multiple chronic conditions (MCCs)?). See you there!


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