Home » Mary Woolley's Weekly Letter » A new prize, new nominee, and potential new agreement

A new prize, new nominee, and potential new agreement

New Research!America Prize: We are excited for the launch of the Discovery | Innovation | Health Prize, to recognize and support a researcher or clinician with a bold vision for progress against pandemic threats. Applications are open through June 15 for the $200,000 prize, generously supported by Pfizer. Many thanks to Victor Dzau, MD, president of the National Academy of Medicine, and a Research!America Board member, for chairing the prize jury. Read the press release for more details and share this opportunity far and wide! 

Debt Ceiling Update: Negotiations on a debt ceiling deal between congressional leadership and the White House appear to be near completion, with a vote possibly next week in the House. Rumors on details abound, but there is as yet nothing definitive to report. We will keep you apprised.

On the Hill: This week President Biden sent his nomination for Monica Bertagnolli, MD, as director of the National Institutes of Health to the Senate for confirmation. Dr. Bertagnolli is a highly esteemed cancer researcher who joined the federal government in October 2022 as head of the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Read our statement and clips from dozens of other organizations in support of Dr. Bertagnolli’s nomination. It’s timely to send your statement of support, as well. 

If you want to get to know Dr. Bertagnolli a little better, NIH Record published a profile/interview discussing what led her to NCI, what she has accomplished so far, and her vision for a highly collaborative future for research. Please join us in advocating for a speedy confirmation process; Dr. Bertagnolli is a stellar pick for this crucially important role. 

Tough Medicine: Supporting federal agencies does not mean turning a blind eye to weaknesses; it means championing the policies and resources they need to fulfill their respective missions, especially in times of crises. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has released a report to Congress on “Public Health Preparedness: Critical Need to Address Deficiencies in HHS’s Leadership and Coordination of Emergencies.” In it, the GAO calls on HHS to take corrective action to remedy a number of long-standing challenges.   

Discovery, Development, Delivery: Join us on Capitol Hill in the Dirksen Senate Building for an in-person lunch briefing highlighting the medical and health R&D pipeline, to be held on Monday, May 22, from 11:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. ET. A panel of speakers representing the full spectrum of the health and medical research continuum will explore the “process behind progress” in the fight against lupus and other high-cost, high-burden diseases, including the critical roles of both the public and private sectors and the need for greater patient involvement in driving medical progress. RSVP to Trent Carlson; space is limited.

ARPA-H Launches First Program: Speaking of Discovery, Development, Delivery, the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health – the federal agency established last year to focus on funding medical and health breakthroughs – has launched its first program. The goal of NITRO (Novel Innovations for Tissue Regeneration in Osteoarthritis) is to find ways for the human body to repair its own joints. Osteoarthritis affects more than 32 million Americans, is the third most common type of disability, and has an estimated economic burden of more than $136 billion per year.

A Proposers’ Day for research teams interested in NITRO is scheduled for June 15 – learn more and register.

ICYMI: If you missed our discussion on Wednesday with Steven Grossman, executive director of the Alliance for a Stronger FDA, check out the recording. Beyond providing a terrific overview of FDA’s many responsibilities and growing demands, Steven put a fine point on the stakes involved for FDA and other federal agencies and programs as FY24 appropriations proceed.

Upcoming Alliance-Member Only Discussion: On Tuesday, May 23, at noon ET we’ll hear from Peter Marks, MD, PhD, director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research at FDA. We’ve asked Dr. Marks to discuss efforts to shape a robust, cost- and time-efficient regulatory review pathway for advances in gene therapy. Gene therapy is one of the most promising and challenging areas of focus for 21st century science. Join us with your questions and insights. If you haven’t seen the registration link in your email, send a note to Jacqueline Lagoy.

State of A.I. Discussion: Join us on Wednesday, May 24, at 1 p.m. ET for a discussion with Vincent Conitzer, PhD, about the challenge of forging a transparent, responsible path forward for artificial intelligence. Dr. Conitzer, director of the Foundations of Cooperative AI Lab at Carnegie Mellon University, is one of the key signatories of an open letter by the Future of Life Institute calling for a pause in the training of AI systems more powerful than GPT-4. Bring your questions and join us.