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Research!America’s History

Launching an Advocacy Movement for Research for Health

In the late 1980s, Research!America’s founders came together to address the widening gap between the potential of biomedical research and the support it was then garnering from the American public and its elected representatives. Leaders from university and independent research institutions, industry, patient organizations, and scientific societies, advised by elected and appointed officials and visionary advocates, formed the Research!America alliance. The wisdom of the founders has stood the test of time, as illustrated by 1989 statements that continue to ring true today:

“Mission Statement: To gain public awareness of the benefits to humankind of medical research and to build a strong base of citizen support for more research into cure, treatment and prevention of physical and mental disorders.”

“Case Statement: Preoccupations by Congress and the administration with deficit reduction and competition for appropriations in a resource-scarce environment have resulted in woeful underfunding of government agencies involved in medical research.”

“Plan of Action: To achieve its goal of making medical research a national priority of the highest order, Research!America must mobilize public opinion and develop strategies that succeed in getting citizens sufficiently aroused to make their views known to Congress and The White House.”

Key Milestones

Jan. 1989

Research!America officially launches with former Sen. Lowell Weicker as president, CEO and key spokesperson. Edwin C. “Jack” Whitehead, founder of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, is the founding board chair. Other founding Board members: Theodore Cooper, MD, chairman and CEO of Upjohn Co. and his associate Ed Greissing, vice president of government affairs; renowned medical research advocate Mary W. Lasker; Robert Dresing, president and CEO of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation; former Speaker of the House Thomas O’Neill; Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, MD; Raymond Sackler, MD, president of the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Foundation, Inc.; Terry Lierman, president of Capitol Associates, Inc.; John Donnelly, VP of public affairs at The National Multiple Sclerosis Society and later VP of public affairs at Research!America; Carol Scheman, director of federal relations at the Association of American Universities; Virginia Weldon, VP for public policy at Monsanto; Willa Hsueh, MD, senior member of The Methodist Hospital Research Institute; Michael Goldberg, PhD, executive director of The American Society for Microbiology; former Utah Senate Minority Leader Patricia Jones; William R. Hendee, PhD, VP of science and technology for the American Medical Association; and William Anlyan, MD, chancellor of Duke University, who would later become chair of the Research!America Board of Directors.

  • AdvaMed (Advanced Medical Technology Association)
  • Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University
  • Alliance for Aging Research
  • American Academy of Pediatrics
  • The American College of Neuropsychopharmacology
  • American Dental Education Association
  • American Diabetes Association
  • American Geriatrics Society
  • American Medical Association
  • The American Physiological Society
  • American Psychiatric Association
  • American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
  • The American Society for Microbiology
  • Association of Independent Research Institutes
  • Baylor College of Medicine
  • Beckman Coulter
  • Bristol-Myers Squibb
  • Burroughs Wellcome Fund
  • Case Western Reserve University
  • Children's Research Institute at Children's National Medical Center
  • Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
  • Columbia University
  • David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA (formerly University of California, Los Angeles School of Medicine)
  • Duke University Medical Center
  • Emory University School of Medicine
  • Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB)
  • The Forsyth Institute
  • Georgetown University Medical Center
  • Harvard Medical School
  • Hereditary Disease Foundation
  • Howard Hughes Medical Institute
  • International & American Association for Dental Research
  • JDRF
  • Johns Hopkins Medicine
  • Johnson & Johnson
  • Massachusetts General Hospital
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
  • Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
  • Merck & Co., Inc.
  • Morehouse School of Medicine
  • National Alopecia Areata Foundation
  • National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD)
  • New York University
  • Novartis International
  • Partners Healthcare System, Inc.
  • Pfizer Inc
  • PhRMA
  • Purdue University
  • Society for Neuroscience
  • Society for Pediatric Research
  • University of Alabama, School of Medicine
  • University of California, San Diego School of Medicine/Health Sciences
  • The University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine
  • University of Connecticut Health Center
  • University of Louisville
  • University of Maryland, Baltimore
  • University of Miami
  • University of North Carolina School of Medicine
  • University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
  • The University of Toledo Medical Center (formerly the Medical College of Ohio)
  • University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health
  • Vanderbilt University Medical Center
  • The George Washington University
  • Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine
  • Weill Cornell Medical College
  • Yale University School of Medicine


Mary Woolley, formerly CEO of the Medical Research Institute of San Francisco and president of the Association of Independent Research Institutes (AIRI), is named president and CEO of Research!America. The alliance makes its first call for doubling the NIH budget.


Founder Edwin C. “Jack” Whitehead dies. Duke University Chancellor William Anlyan, MD, is elected board chair. Research!America releases first national public opinion poll conducted by Louis Harris and Associates, Inc., now Harris Interactive. Poll data indicates that 91% of Americans support increased funding for medical research. The first state poll (Maryland) is released at a press conference in Annapolis that launched a statewide public awareness campaign to galvanize the public and scientific community into an active advocacy force for medical research.


Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) asks Research!America to present national public opinion poll data to the Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources. The second statewide public awareness campaign is launched in North Carolina. Research!America Honorary Director and former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop partners with Research!America to create a national public service announcement campaign calling for an increase in medical research funding.


A third statewide public awareness campaign is launched in New York City, New Jersey and Connecticut; poll data confirm strong support for research in tri-state area.


Research!America holds first annual National Health Research Forum, featuring, among others, former senator and presidential candidate Paul Tsongas (D-MA). In Congress, an amendment by Sen. Mark O. Hatfield (R-OR) blocks a 10% cut of NIH budget. He observes that only 3 cents of every health care dollar goes to research, a finding Research!America has established, and which Research!America public opinion polling reveals is not considered by the American public to be adequate to the importance of finding cures and preventions for disease and disability. Research!America debuts NEWS IN BRIEF, a publication to inform and educate medical science reporters and writers about new discoveries and the high cost of disease and illness; it is distributed monthly to media and Members of Congress.


The Honorable Paul G. Rogers, a former congressman widely known as “Mr. Health,” is elected Research!America Board chair. Research!America launches the signature 435 Project® to remind citizens in all 435 congressional districts that they have a voice for medical research. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Dana Foundation are major sponsors. Research!America holds a Capitol Hill event with The Mary Woodard Lasker Charitable Trust.


Research!America holds first Research Advocacy Awards Dinner to honor outstanding advocates for medical, health and scientific research. Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) offer a budget amendment to make funds available for doubling the NIH budget. Rep. John Edward Porter (R-IL) spearheads concurrent doubling effort in the House.


Under the leadership of Research!America Board member John Whitehead, the Campaign for Medical Research, an independent, not-for-profit, 501(c)(4) organization, is launched in partnership with Research!America. The goal is to double funding for NIH in five years. The Wall Street Journal recognizes Research!America, chaired by Paul G. Rogers, as a driving force behind the FY99 15% increase to the NIH budget. Research!America holds first research and communication forum at the University of Kentucky with researchers and journalism students. Research!America hosts a research partners forum with the University of Colorado and affiliated institutions.


Research!America’s many-year partnership with PARADE Magazine kicks off with the publication of an article by former Sen. Paul Simon (D-IL) recounting how he changed his mind about the value of research after being diagnosed with heart disease. Sen. Simon cites relevant Research!America-commissioned public opinion poll data. Research!America releases first annual poll data summary, America Speaks Vol.1, a publication underwritten by the United Health Foundation.


With a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Research!America launches the Prevention Research Initiative to elevate prevention research to a higher national priority. A sister organization, Research Australia, is established.


By an act of Congress, The Paul G. Rogers Plaza on the NIH campus is dedicated in honor of Research!America’s chair. Under his leadership, as well as that of Vice Chair William A. Peck, MD, Research!America releases the Research!America Blueprint Initiative, outlining how to ensure national progress and prosperity through research.


Research!America presents the first Eugene Garfield Economic Impact of Medical and Health Research Award with founding support from Research!America Board member and founder of the Institute for Scientific Information, Eugene Garfield, PhD. Research!America releases first report estimating annual U.S. investment in medical and health research across all sectors of the research ecosystem. Investment in Research Saves Lives and Money, a series of one-page fact sheets, launches with support from Lasker/Funding First, a program of the Mary Woodard Lasker Charitable Trust.


The doubling of the NIH budget over five years is complete, a successful multi-organizational effort in which the Research!America alliance played a leadership role. In partnership with the University of Texas at Austin and The Greenwall Foundation, Research!America hosts a media/science forum on public understanding of stem cell research in Texas.


The first of a regular series of Research!America/PARADE Health Polls is launched. A PARADE Magazine cover story, “They May Save Your Life,” features six researchers from a variety of scientific disciplines calling attention to the enormous value of medical and health research. The Campaign for Public Health, an independent, not-for-profit, 501(c)(4) organization, is formed with the goal of increasing funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Research!America Board member Evan Jones is founding chair. The Burroughs Wellcome Fund internship program at Research!America is established.


The Honorable John Edward Porter, who retired from the Congress in 2000, is elected Board chair. The Honorable Paul G. Rogers remains active with Research!America as chair emeritus. An overview of 10 years of Research!America public opinion research is published in a special issue of JAMA-The Journal of the American Medical Association. The first known estimate of U.S. investment in global health research is released in a new report, sponsored by The Ellison Medical Foundation. Research!America’s stem cell poll is featured on the cover of PARADE Magazine. Public Health Thank You Day is launched to salute the work of the public health community. A sister organization, Research Canada, is established.


The Paul G. Rogers Society for Global Health Research is launched, with initial funding provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Research!America, the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation, and additional partners launch the award-winning Your Candidates-Your Health voter education initiative, the first-ever outreach to all candidates for Congress to ask their positions on medical, health and scientific research.


Research!America, the Lasker Foundation and additional partners launch the award-winning Your Congress-Your Health, asking all Members of Congress to indicate their positions on medical and health research. In partnership with public health leaders in Pennsylvania, Research!America conducts four targeted advocacy training workshops for public health professionals and researchers.


Research!America and partners engage on the Your Candidates-Your Health initiative for the 2008 presidential and congressional primaries and election, reaching 111 million Americans through news coverage about research as an election issue. The research and health community mourns the death of Research!America’s chair emeritus, The Honorable Paul G. Rogers.


NIH receives a $10 billion increase, NSF receives a $3 billion increase and AHRQ receives a $1.1 billion increase as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, following aggressive advocacy by Research!America and its partners. A $1 billion prevention and wellness fund is established, part of which is allocated to CDC. Research!America co-sponsors Rock Stars of ScienceTM, a new media campaign created by the Geoffrey Beene Foundation. In partnership with the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation and the Foundation for the NIH, Research!America honors Sens. Tom Harkin (D-IA), Arlen Specter (D-PA) and Edward Kennedy (D-MA) for their leadership and shared commitment to making research for health a higher national priority. Research!America launches the New Voices for Research initiative to empower young professionals to transform their passion for research into advocacy.


Research!America launches state-focused advocacy on the economic impact of global health R&D, with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The first series of Capitol Hill briefings focused on global health R&D in Illinois. A sister organization, Research!Sweden, is established.


Research!America analyzes the attitudes of Tea Party supporters toward medical and health research in polling and focus groups. As budget cuts threaten to derail the pace of research to improve health, Research!America embarks on an intensified advocacy campaign to promote funding and incentives for medical and health research.


In the face of a decade of devastating cuts to federal research, Research!America releases a new report, “Sequestration: Health Research at the Breaking Point.” Research!America launches the Save Research Campaign, with 142 active partner organizations participating in grassroots advocacy, advertising, increased media coverage and significant social media outreach to inform Congress and the White House: We Need Cures, Not Cuts! (#curesnotcuts). Research!America launches a global health ad campaign, Nice Save, to highlight the payoffs of repurposing research. Ads are widely featured in publications and DC Metro system. The Howard Hughes Medical Institute science policy fellowship program is established at Research!America.


Research!America conducts first Advocacy Academy for early-career scientists and hosts the Research Matters Communications workshop in partnership with George Washington University, Elsevier and the Society for Neuroscience. Research!America launches a congressional recess social media campaign and radio tour in key congressional districts to fight sequestration, reaching more than 900,000 people nationwide.


NIH dedicates the John Edward Porter Neuroscience Research Center, a state of the art research facility on the Bethesda, MD campus named in honor of Research!America Chair, Hon. John Porter. The “Ask Your Candidates” national voter education initiative engages congressional candidates and voters on issues related to medical progress and innovation for the mid-term elections.


Research!America supports the 21st Century Cures Act, sweeping legislation to accelerate the discovery, development and delivery of life-saving treatments and therapies to patients. The measure was approved by the House in July. Research!America launches Campaign for Cures: Vote for Medical Progress, a national voter education initiative for the presidential and congressional elections, and releases a joint national public opinion survey on science and the 2016 elections undertaken with ScienceDebate.org.


The 21st Century Cures Act is signed into law as a result of sustained, strategic advocacy campaigns by Research!America, member organizations and partners. The National Institutes of Health receives a $2 billion increase in FY16, the largest funding increase for the agency in a decade, due to advocacy initiatives and strong congressional bipartisan support for research. Research!America and partners host regional programs and release state-based public opinion surveys on medical research and innovation in Louisiana, Georgia, Colorado and Ohio.


Research!America launches a joint “Raise the Caps” grassroots and communications campaign in partnership with several scientific organizations to lift federal spending caps in FY18 and FY19.  The alliance releases the “2013 – 2016 U.S. Investments in Medical and Health Research and Development” report highlighting trends in R&D investments from academia, industry, government, research institutions, professional societies and voluntary health associations. Research!America and Shepherd University host a regional program in West Virginia on the opioid epidemic and the health and economic impact of research with Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Shelly Moore-Capito (R-WV), and commissions national and state-based public opinion surveys on clinical trials, medical research and innovation.


The Research!America-led cross-science “Raise the Caps” campaign helps secure an agreement to lift the caps on federal spending for Fiscal Year 2018 and Fiscal Year 2019; our day in, day out medical and health research-focused advocacy also helped spur Congress to sign into law $3 billion and $2 billion increases for NIH in FY18 and FY19 respectively, increases in the budgets of CDC, FDA, NSF, and AHRQ; and a second, two-year suspension of the Medical device excise tax; we executed a midterm election voter and candidate engagement initiative featuring microgrants for student groups pursuing nonpartisan candidate outreach; and we played an important role in preventing a number of harmful proposals from advancing, among them: additional restrictions on already tightly regulated fetal tissue research; de-funding of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ); and a “rescissions” package that would have reduced resources for such priorities as Ebola response and health economics research; and a year-long voter and candidate engagement initiative that featured microgrants for postdoc groups spearheading nonpartisan candidate engagement activities.


After intensive efforts, the budget caps were raised, and we saw strong increases in funding for NIH, NSF, CDC, and FDA. Together, we secured a repeal of the medical device tax and strengthened public health infrastructure. We also increased our outreach to early-career scientists through our growing microgrant program which supported civic engagement.


In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we pivoted to digital events for our members, including weekly alliance member meetings with over 56 guest speakers and a Virtual National Health Research Forum that attracted 1,600 registered participants, featured over 90 speakers, and generated coverage on PBS and CNN. We also worked together with our allies to increase funding for COVID-19 research, promoted public-private partnerships, and fought efforts to restrict international students and researchers from U.S. universities. We continued to amplify the voices of early career researchers and supported the important efforts of the Science and Technology Action Committee.


As the COVID-19 pandemic continued, we kept our members informed in real time by continuing to host weekly virtual programming. We hosted 47 alliance member meetings and a second virtual National Health Research Forum. The Forum attracted 1,300 participants, featured nearly 100 speakers, and was mentioned in over 400 news articles. We empowered early career scientists by administering our fourth cycle of the Civic Engagement Microgrant Program and hosting the inaugural Early Career Summit, which equipped participants with skills in civic engagement, science communication, and science policy. We provided members of Congress with frequently updated resources on pandemic-related R&D, and successfully advocated for increased NIH, NSF, FDA, CDC, and AHRQ funding. We successfully built momentum to stand-up ARPA-H, a high-risk, high-reward incubator for translational science; innovative solutions like ARPA-H are the kind of big thinking necessary to address future health challenges. We secured a $5 million endowment from Johnson & Johnson to support a new category of Advocacy Awards, the Outstanding Achievement in Public Health Awards. These Awards will amplify our ability to celebrate and champion the role individuals and organizations play through research, communication, and public-private partnerships in confronting public health threats that jeopardize our security, prosperity, and well-being.


Federal research agencies received across-the-board funding increases, including $2.5 billion for NIH. The Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H) was officially established on March 15. Congress reauthorized “user fees,” enabling the FDA to approve critical new drugs and devices for patients. It also reauthorized small business research grants to build out U.S. R&D capacity. Research!America and the Science Technology Action Committee helped build support for the landmark passage of the bipartisan CHIPS and Science Act, which authorized $174 billion in funding over the next five years for various federal science agencies to invest in STEM, workforce development, and R&D. In addition to our annual national survey, we commissioned surveys in partnership with Virginia Tech and the Dana Foundation.


Research!America continued to play a pivotal role in advocating for increased investment in scientific research and fostering collaboration among key stakeholders. Federal research agencies saw a boost in funding, including a $2.5 billion increase for the NIH and a $1 billion increase for the NSF. At the 2023 National Health Research Forum, we presented the first-ever $200,000 Discovery | Innovation | Health Prize, generously supported by Pfizer, to Nevan Krogan, PhD, Director of UCSF’s Quantitative Biosciences Institute, for his trailblazing efforts to address future pandemic threats. The Alliance successfully broke the logjam preventing Senate confirmation of a new NIH director resulting in the confirmation and swearing-in of Dr. Monica Bertagnolli. Research!America helped to launch and lead the Coalition for Trust in Health and Science, which aims for all people to have equitable access to accurate, understandable, and relevant information to make appropriate health decisions. Additionally, in partnership with Emory University, we commissioned a first-of-its-kind, statewide survey that captured Georgians’ views of the maternal health crisis facing the state.