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A Call to Action

Dear Research Advocate,

Today marks the first day of Black History Month, a time to celebrate remarkable trailblazers such as Dr. Alexa Canady, the first African American woman to become a neurosurgeon, and reflect on such unmet challenges as persistent racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic disparities in health and health care. In a soon-to-be-released national public opinion survey commissioned by Research!America, we discovered that an extraordinary 89% of U.S. adults feel it is important to conduct research to combat health disparities.

That level of support is not a suggestion, it is a call to action. 

Welcoming the 17th Director of the NIH: “Equity will guide my approach to leading NIH.” That is what another surgeon, Dr. Monica Bertagnolli, told reporters in her first news conference since assuming her role as NIH director. 

Last evening, during a well-attended welcome reception hosted by Research!America, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, and several other partners, Dr. Bertagnolli, Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), and Rep. Greg Murphy (R-NC), spoke to the enduring significance of the research NIH conducts and supports. 

Several other members of Congress stopped by to greet the new Director and speak informally to the more than 400 attendees, including the leaders of every NIH institute and center. Dr. Bertagnolli spoke of streamlining the path from the lab to the patient. In her remarks, she said that the NIH’s mission will not be complete until everyone is leading healthier, longer lives. She is well positioned to partner with Congress in maximizing NIH’s societal impact.   

On The Hill: Congressional appropriators have agreed to subcommittee funding allocations for FY24 based on the “topline” funding Congressional leaders announced on Jan. 7. This development should pave the path (sort of… there will likely be plenty of bumps and potholes) to finalizing FY24 funding before the next government shutdown looms over the nation in early March. The sub-allocations have not been made public, and advocacy can still influence funding levels for NIH and our nation’s other research and public health agencies. Use this editable email to make the case to your representatives in Congress.

Update on AMR: The alarm bells are sounding ever louder as antimicrobial resistance creates more “superbugs” unresponsive to the current supply of antibiotics and other infectious disease drugs. In the U.S. alone, drug-resistant infections result in more than 30,000 deaths each year.

What can you do? Join us Feb. 6, at noon ET, for a discussion with leading AMR expert, Dr. Elaine Larson, Professor Emerita, School of Nursing and Department of Epidemiology, Columbia University. Learn about the challenge and the path back to a rock-solid defense against drug-resistant superbugs.

Will research agencies be responsible for regulating prices?

Today, Research!America submitted comments to the National Institute of Standards and Technology addressing a proposed federal policy change that reinterprets the 1980 Bayh-Dole Act to dramatically destabilize the technology transfer system that this landmark law established. See our press release.

Here is a FAQ and a slide deck that provide background on the issue, along with a submission template that we hope proves helpful if you choose to submit comments. The deadline – Tuesday, Feb. 6 – is rapidly approaching. Please touch base with Ellie Dehoney if we can be of further assistance on this.

Meet the “Edison of Medicine”: On Feb. 8, join a virtual conversation with Dr. Robert Langer, David H. Koch Institute Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the recipient of the New York Academy of Sciences’ 2023 Dr. Paul Janssen Award. Described by the Harvard Business Review as the “Edison of Medicine,” Dr. Langer, a previous Research!America advocacy award recipient, will be honored for his trailblazing work designing novel drug delivery systems. His work is just another example of how research leads to tangible benefits for us all. Register for this free virtual event.

Before I Sign Off… I want to personally invite you to join us on March 13, from 4–7 p.m. ET, for the 28th annual Research!America Advocacy Awards. The awards celebrate and recognize the passion and purpose of individuals and organizations whose leadership has advanced our nation’s commitment to medical, health, and scientific research. Take a moment to check out this year’s list of distinguished honorees and register. For more information on how you can support the awards, visit our sponsorship webpage or contact Katie Goode.

Stay well, stay safe, and stay connected.