A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: Toward a More Scientific Union

Mary Woolley

Dear Research Advocate:

The election is only 18 days away, still time for candidates for Congress and President to share details about how they plan to speed medical progress. Use this editable message to reach out. Quoting the sentiment of former HHS Secretary and President Emeritus of Morehouse School of Medicine, Dr. Louis Sullivan, in his recent op-ed on the landscape of science this election cycle: “Let’s hear some specifics!... We’re all ears.” 

A few days ago I joined ScienceDebate.org, YouTube, the Young Turks and leading science champions in a provocative discussion about the role of science in this year’s elections. Check out A More Scientific Union, on YouTube (panel 1, panel 2).

Following the YouTube program, two of my fellow panelists, former Congressman Rush Holt, CEO of AAAS and Research!America board member, and former NIH and NCI Director Dr. Harold Varmus sat down with Scientific American to discuss their views on the election and reflect on the Obama administration's treatment of science. Meanwhile, President Obama, a self-described science geek, guest-edited a special “Frontiers” issue of Wired in which he discussed his optimism for the future of America’s scientific endeavours. Championing a long view on innovation is essential; Eric Lander’s thoughtful op-ed on this topic provided an opportunity to help keep the topic front and center -- see my letter to the editor in today’s Boston Globe. Also this week -- a preview of “Rx for Innovation,” an ambitious consensus-building project spearheaded by FasterCures that I was glad to contribute to. It resulted in robust recommendations to help the next administration propel medical progress. Read Executive Director Margaret Anderson’s terrific overview.

The Cancer Moonshot report echoes many of those recommendations.  Whether the goal is to speed progress against cancer or pick up the pace against the host of diseases that rob us of health and time, the formula for success is twofold: smart policy and sufficient funding. At the moment, the Moonshot’s best chance to receive funding is through the Cures Initiative, which is pending in the Senate after months (and more months) of negotiations. Luckily,  leaders in both chambers have listed Cures among their top priorities for the lame-duck session. Send a message to your representatives urging them to complete their work on the Cures legislation before time runs out.

I was honored to receive the Adam Yarmolinsky Medal from the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) this week. Several people have asked for a copy of my 52-second acceptance remarks. The NAM’s public meeting addressed an urgent priority for our nation-- the obesity epidemic - considering it from the perspectives of basic and clinical researchers, as well as those who work on addressing social determinants of health (underappreciated and woefully underfunded), and also policymakers and influencers. Check out material from the meeting here

For those of you based in D.C. or who might be in town on other business, I invite you to join us next week, October 27 from noon-1:30 PM at 600 14th St, NW, Suite 300, for a meeting co-hosted with Health IT Now on FDA’s incorporation of real-world evidence in drug and device approvals. Dr. Gregory Daniel from the Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy will be our guest speaker, discussing this report. RSVP to Catherine Pugh (cpugh@healthitnow.org) by October 25.

Every year on the Monday before Thanksgiving, Research!America and its partners take the opportunity to thank public health professionals for their service to our nation and the global community. We invite you to partner with us for this year’s Public Health Thank You Day (PHTYD), on November 21. There is no cost involved, only a willingness to lend your organization’s logo, creativity and voice to spread the word about the importance of public health, thanking those engaged in its important work. Explore our PHTYD website to learn more. Contact Caitlin Cotter at ccotter@researchamerica.org to get involved.


Mary Woolley

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Luck shouldn't play a role in why I'm alive.
Laurie MacCaskill, a seven-year pancreatic cancer survivor