A weekly advocacy message from Mary Woolley: What they did on their vacation...

Mary Woolley

Dear Research Advocate,

A refreshing number of members of Congress have allocated time during this recess to champion medical research, among them Senators Capito (R-WV), Franken (D-MN), and Kirk (R-IL), and Representatives Burgess (R-TX-26), Dold (R-IL-10), Israel (D-NY-03), Lance (R-NJ-07) and Walden (R-OR-02). Rep. Dold, for example, visited Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine as well as private industries in his district, like Marathon, to discuss ways to speed up medical innovation. Visiting the genetics lab at Northwestern, Rep. Dold commented: “We spent a little over 330 billion dollars this year in treating diabetes alone. Can we get some [additional] research dollars to see if we can cure it? Because, heaven knows, we can use the 330 billion dollars in another way.” Site visits are a terrific way to cultivate congressional champions. Let us know if we can help you arrange one! 

We are bracing for a frantic September in Washington. The House is scheduled to be in session for 10 days, the Senate for 15...and the Pope will be in town for two of those 15. The to-do list for those few days includes moving the highway/transportation and cybersecurity bills, considering the Iran nuclear deal, and passing some kind of temporary budget deal to avoid a government shutdown.

As I mentioned in my last letter, we expect a short-term continuing resolution that extends FY15 funding through December, in the most recent year of a decade-long pattern of collapse of regular order and featuring needless delays and expense, as the burdensome reality of constant contingency planning and the threats, and sometimes reality, of government shutdowns send a message of government dysfunction to researchers, industry, patients -- indeed, to every citizen. This year, AHRQ remains at especially high risk because of the possibility that a short-term continuing resolution will eliminate the agency’s funding. Research!America has sent a letter to House and Senate leadership urging them to rebuff any action that would hinder AHRQ’s work. I hope you will speak up as well. AHRQ is part of the solution to our fiscal deficit, not part of the problem. 
The Obama Administration is considering changes to the “common rule,” which as you know is the standard bearer for human subject protections in research. On September 8, the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) will be officially posted, but if you want to get a head start on the 519 page rule, you can find it here. A summary of the major changes starts on page 21. After the 8th, comments will be accepted for 90 days.

Coming up this month is the annual Rally for Medical Research Hill Day on September 17. As a lead supporter, Research!America is encouraging all who support increased funding for NIH to get engaged. And we are just one week away from our 2015 Forum. Three panels composed of expert stakeholders will be discussing the most pressing issues medical research is facing today. I look forward to seeing you on September 10! You can still register here.


Mary Woolley

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You can change the image of things to come. But you can’t do it sitting on your hands … The science community should reach out to Congress and build bridges.
The Honorable John E. Porter