A weekly advocacy message from Mary Woolley: Strange bedfellows

Mary Woolley

Strange bedfellows? Not when it comes to research advocacy. On Monday, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich joined Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Representative Elijah Cummings (D-MD-07) to press for more R&D in the bioscience arena. Not every topic is one on which Senator Warren and Speaker Gingrich agree, but they found common ground in the benefits that could come from another NIH doubling. The drumbeat for medical research continues apace.
The Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) released what is sure to be an influential report this week, Advancing Medical Innovation for a Healthier America. Focused on the development phase of the discovery, development, delivery continuum, the report recommends changes in FDA policy that will undoubtedly generate discussion and debate as the Senate advances medical innovation legislation and FDA user fee negotiations begin. We value your input on the BPC recommendations to help inform our advocacy efforts.

At the request of Congress, NIH this week released a “bypass” budget for Alzheimer’s Disease. Otherwise known as a “professional judgement” budget, the bypass exercise asks NIH to estimate the amount the federal government would invest in Alzheimer’s research if money were no object. NIH posited that an additional $323 million in FY17 would accelerate progress significantly. This is important for many reasons, not least as a recognition by lawmakers that current resources are not meeting scientific opportunity.  Read our statement here.

News this week on Parkinson’s disease (PD) -- Biogen and the Parkinson’s Institute and Clinical Center have formed a strategic alliance on Parkinson’s, aimed at understanding the underlying biology of PD and at the development of novel tools and programs that could accelerate new PD treatments. More information on potential PD treatments can be found on our new Parkinson’s disease fact sheet, released this week. This is an exciting time for neurological research -- thinking critically about the challenges before us and banding together in unique partnerships truly can bring about the breakthroughs our country desperately needs.

One more thing: the presidential candidates debates begin next week! C-SPAN is sponsoring a Voters First Forum with the Republican presidential candidates in New Hampshire at 7pm ET. On Thursday, FOX News is sponsoring an RNC debate among Republican candidates at 9pm ET. Both C-SPAN and FOX are accepting questions from the public. Consider asking a question about how a candidate plans to prioritize medical research or scientific discovery writ large. If the producers receive a high volume of questions on a topic, they are much more likely to include it in the moderators’ lineup. Please join us in working for this outcome!

Mary Woolley

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Without research, there is no hope.
The Honorable Paul G. Rogers