A weekly advocacy message from Mary Woolley: Momentum for research stays alive

Mary Woolley

Dear Research Advocate,

It was down to the wire, but Congress passed and the President signed a continuing resolution (CR) yesterday evening to keep the government operating, at least through December 11, 2015. Speaker Boehner’s sudden resignation last Friday came as a shock. But since he has made it clear there is still a lot he’d like to accomplish before he leaves Congress on October 30, hopes have soared in many quarters! He is reportedly working with Leader Pelosi (D-CA-12), Senate leadership and the White House on a longer term budget deal, one that we hope will jettison sequestration. Now is a good time to thank members of Congress for taking action to prevent a shutdown, and urge them to champion a budget that will boost funding for medical research and science writ-large.

A budget reconciliation package that passed out of the House Energy and Commerce Committee this week would defund the Prevention and Public Health Fund (PPHF). Research!America has written House leadership urging them to place America’s health and wellbeing ahead of politics and protect the fund. I hope your organization will consider doing the same. Let us know if we can help! What better way to confront costs of healthcare than to find ways to effectively prevent disease in the first place?

A welcome new report from the National Academies underscores the importance of reducing the onerous regulatory burden weighing down federally-funded research. Everyone benefits: scientists and administrators can spend less time on outdated, unnecessary compliance; taxpayers’ dollars stretch further and buy more; and patients won't have to wait as long for solutions.  Research!America has been pushing for inclusion of regulatory reform in the Senate Innovation Initiative (the companion piece to the House 21st Century Cures Act). HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and a number of other Senators have indicated support. More info here.

Research!America is holding an alliance members' meeting on Wednesday, October 7, to discuss the Senate bill’s progress and brainstorm near-term advocacy. If you are interested in joining the conversation, either in person or by phone, please contact Ellie Dehoney (edehoney@researchamerica.org). Another discussion about the 21st Century Cures Act and the Senate Innovation Initiative will take place next Monday, October 5 at noon, when I will join a lunch-time panel discussion. Register here for this Politico-sponsored event.

On Monday, the nominations for the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine will be announced. With more of the Nobelists named each morning, it will be a week with more than the usual attention to science in the media.  And thus it is a time of opportunity for science advocates to "connect the dots." As several of us argue in a timely New Scientist article, it is critical for advocates of science to make themselves heard. This coming week is the time to use media of all kinds -- very much including social media -- to draw attention to the role of publicly-funded science over an extended period of time in the realization of critical breakthroughs worthy of a Nobel Prize.

Another timely message strategy is to make a link to the election season. If we don’t ask candidates to tell us where assuring faster medical progress ranks among their priorities, we shouldn’t be surprised if they assign it short shrift when they are elected. Our voter education initiative, Campaign for Cures, aims to prevent that outcome. Becoming involved as a partner means demonstrating to your colleagues/network/members/employees that you are actively engaged in changing the conversation on the campaign trail. Please contact Carol Kennedy (ckennedy@researchamerica.org) to discuss partnership opportunities.

Click here for a hot-off-the-presses recap of our 2015 National Health Research Forum. The Research!America board and staff join me in thanking all who participated-- whether as a panelist, sponsor or an audience member-- in making the 2015 Forum our best ever...until next year! 


Mary Woolley

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The capabilities are enormous, a little bit of research can pay off quite a bit in the long run.
Paul D’ Addario, retinitis pigmentosa patient