A weekly advocacy message from Mary Woolley: Time to talk about investing taxpayer dollars in research

Mary Woolley

Dear Research Advocate,

Former VP candidate and Ways and Means Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI-01) appears poised to become the next Speaker of the House. This turn of events improves the outlook for a budget deal, potentially including FY16 funding, sequestration relief for one or two years, and a new debt limit. See our letter with United for Medical Research and two major defense industry associations on the negative consequences of sequestration.

Senate HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) made news this week reaffirming his willingness to consider mandatory spending for NIH in his Innovation Initiative. To turn “maybe” into “yes,” advocates must be heard.  Earlier this week, a letter we sent to Chairman Alexander and Ranking Member Murray (D-WA) received significant media attention. With your help, we can turn up the volume.  Please contact your Senator!

Jeannette Wing, Corporate Vice President of Microsoft Research, spoke at an event this week organized by the American Academy of Arts & Sciences to showcase their recent declaration entitled Innovation: An American Imperative. Check out Wing’s compelling economic impact infographic. Many multi-billion dollar tech companies with household names -- Microsoft among them -- were fueled early on by federal funding for basic research performed in academic institutions. The Obama Administration makes similar points in its just-released Strategy for Innovation update.

As I have noted in previous letters, mental health is rightfully receiving significant attention. The House and Senate are trying to move the needle on meaningful mental health reform. The Eating Disorder Coalition is holding a March Against Eating Disorders Tuesday, October 27 on the west lawn of the Capitol to raise awareness regarding this all too pervasive constellation of illnesses.  In the lead-up to our annual Public Health Thank You Day (Monday, November 23), Research!America is focusing on an important public health theme each week, and this week our focus is on mental health. Read our newly released fact sheet on eating disorders, check out our blog post and join the conversation on social media using the hashtag #PHTYD.

Yesterday, Vice President Joe Biden announced he will not seek the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016. Biden said, “If I could be anything, I would have wanted to be the president who ended cancer, because it's possible.” His spirited remarks included a call for bipartisanship and a demand for a “moonshot to cure cancer.” The call for ramping up science has attracted another high profile champion, but we need many more. Pledge to join the Campaign for Cures and deliver a clear message to candidates.

Another opportunity to deliver your advocacy message is coming up with the next Republican presidential debate, Wednesday, October 28 at 8 p.m. EDT at the University of Colorado in Boulder. Airing on CNBC, it will focus on the economy and a “Your Money, Your Vote” theme. We know research saves lives and money; the ROI is high. Ask candidates why we aren’t investing more to assure a healthier, more prosperous future.  Tweet this or another question using hashtag #CNBCGOPDebate.


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