A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: From Z (Zika) to A (autism), including election and moonshot thoughts

Mary Woolley

Dear Research Advocate:

On Monday, the White House provided policymakers with an updated request for Zika funding, keeping the same top-line number of $1.9 billion but directing more resources toward vaccine research. On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) told press he did not expect any opposition in addressing this “fairly significant public health crisis.” The need for Zika funding, and increased global health funding at large, was made even more evident this week with the release of a Global Health Technologies Coalition (GHTC) report outlining the need for the U.S. to robustly invest in global R&D. I had the opportunity to discuss the report with CNN -- check out the article here.

In regard to Innovations legislation in the Senate, the good news is that HELP Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) feels confident that if a deal is struck on a “pay for” for mandatory NIH funding, Leader McConnell will schedule the bill for a vote. That’s a significant “if,” though. Please sign your organization on to this letter encouraging key members of the Senate to join forces on behalf of patients in order to secure passage of Innovations legislation. (Questions? Call or email Ellie at (571) 482-2717, edehoney@researchamerica.org).

Have you noticed there is an election going on, and that very little is being said about putting science and innovation to work? Bill Gates has noticed. In an op-ed this week he writes, “While the parties focus on who is going to represent them in the fall, I want to make the case for something that I hope every candidate will agree on in November: America’s unparalleled capacity for innovation.”

If a given issue is something ‘every candidate will agree on,’ a cynic might say it is not worth them talking about. However, there is another way to look at this. Every candidate surely agrees we need to keep our nation secure from terrorist threats. The question becomes, if elected, how will they do that? A similar logic applies to keeping our nation’s innovation edge sharp -- what does each candidate propose to do to make that happen? Our Campaign for Cures aligns perfectly with Bill Gates’ advocacy. Join our campaign and follow us on Facebook and Twitter for updates.

Meanwhile, back on Capitol Hill, the Coalition to Promote Research and the Coalition for National Science Funding, two organizations of which Research!America is proud to be part, held a well-attended exhibit and reception to give researchers who have been singled out in various “wastebooks” a chance to explain their work to policymakers and Hill staff. Guests at the event included Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ), who has issued such a wastebook. He told press: “This has been enlightening, and we want to make sure we are accurate. It is a learning process.” See The Huffington Post article for a full recap.

Learning about the value of research can and should take place all year round. Now, during National Autism Awareness Month, we are releasing the newest addition to our Investment in Research Saves Lives and Money Fact Sheet series on Autism Spectrum Disorder. Think about a decision maker you know who might find this information useful, and send a link or print a copy to drop in the mail or deliver it in person, with a request for action in stepping up resources for research! 

One hundred days ago the Moonshot Initiative was announced by the administration. Since then, Vice President Biden has put his weight behind building momentum, bridging partnerships, rounding up stakeholders and gathering information from experts. Yesterday, Vice President Biden and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, joined the American Association for Cancer Research at their annual meeting to discuss the Initiatives progress thus far. Do you have thoughts on what would speed the day we put cancer in the history books? The Moonshot Initiative has just launched an online portal and is requesting public input.


Mary Woolley


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Without continued support for health research, many of the most promising young scientists, their ideas and a myriad of potentially life-changing scientific breakthroughs will vanish into oblivion.
Paul Marinec, PhD; University of California San Francisco