A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: Pragmatism vs. Politics

Mary Woolley

Dear Research Advocate:

First, it is not too late to sign up for our webinar, The Microbiome Initiative: A Closer Look, which will take place tomorrow, September 16, from 1:00 to 1:30 ET. I am not surprised that interest is strong in this program, which features Dr. Stefano Bertuzzi, CEO of the American Society for Microbiology. Please join us!
I was in New York following the birth of my grandson (Ferdinand, 8 pounds, 14 ounces!) and missed our National Health Research Forum last week; however, I watched the video and the panel discussions were absolutely terrific! From the need for a standing public health emergency fund that grounds threat response in pragmatism rather than politics, to the need for a different way of framing “real world data” that avoids false distinctions, the panelists spoke their minds and expanded ours. Watch the discussions or read a recap of the event here.

The Senate seems poised to pass a short-term continuing resolution (CR) with Zika funding attached and then leave town until after the November elections. The House is expected to follow suit, voting on the Senate package a day or so later. In the scheme of things, House passage of the Senate bill is the best case scenario. That’s not only because the Senate package would reportedly provide desperately needed emergency dollars for Zika, but because the alternative could well be a long-term CR that would flat-fund the government until at least March of 2017, squandering even more time before NIH- and other strategic funding increases are enacted. 

Also moving quickly, the House is working on a new Cures package to bring to the floor, with revamped provisions and new spending offsets (the previous ones, as you may recall, were used to offset sequestration relief this past year). Despite months and months (and months) of work, the Senate has not yet completed a companion to the House bill, H.R. 6, which was passed last July. A new Cures package from the House could help spur action. Help make it happen!

This week, ScienceDebate.org released the Presidential nominees’ answers to the 20 questions posed on science and innovation. To no one’s surprise, there are stark differences in our presidential candidates’ views; as Time notes, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump “diverge widely” on many scientific issues, like climate change, agriculture and biodiversity. However, when it comes to research for health, both candidates voiced their strong support for continued investment. To find out what other candidates for federal office are saying about medical progress, explore our Campaign for Cures interactive map- new quotes are being added daily! If your candidates haven’t weighed in, please take a moment to ask them to!

The next Science Advisor to the President, and the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) she or he oversees, bears crucially on how well -- or poorly -- our nation responds to threats (health, economic, environmental, security and the list goes on) and capitalizes on opportunities (in at least as many arenas). More broadly, OSTP will play a crucial role in determining whether our nation recommits to science and technology or allows our global competitive edge to further erode. Today, the Baker Institute for Public Policy released a set of recommendations that will help the presidential transition teams, and the new science advisor, position our country to leverage science and technology in the most strategic manner possible. It’s important guidance at a pivotal moment for our country.


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