Home » Mary Woolley's Weekly Letter » A Revealing Map

A Revealing Map

Dear Research Advocate,

As we approach the midterm elections, we are seeing a lot of red and blue maps. We have a map for you. On Monday, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) dedicated the Roy Blunt Center for Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias Research. This is the 13th building on the NIH campus named in honor of a former member of Congress – 7 for Democrats and 6 for Republicans. The NIH campus map is a testament to decades of incredible bipartisan support for NIH and for federally funded research and innovation.

Senator Blunt (R-MO) announced last year that he will retire when his term ends (read our 2021 statement). Throughout Sen. Blunt’s long career, he has been an extraordinary champion for the NIH, for research, and for public health.

This afternoon, Sen. Blunt was one of 10 Republican senators who were part of a 56-40 bipartisan vote to confirm Arati Prabhakar, PhD, as Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. With Dr. Prabhakar’s confirmation, she also becomes Chief Advisor to the President for Science and Technology, a Cabinet-level position. (Read our statement.)

Forum Highlights: Thirteen high-level federal officials were among the 70 speakers at our 2022 National Health Research Forum this week. Every year, the Forum is a peak event for our alliance. We engage in issues across the research and public health ecosystem, and from the breadth of discussions comes new understanding, new connections, and new opportunities to act and engage.

Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, MD, MBA, gave us this encouragement in his Day 2 opening remarks: “The scientific community is unquestionably emerging from this pandemic stronger and smarter from having gone through it. And our task now is to build on that knowledge we’ve gained and that progress that we’ve made, as we recover, rebuild, and prepare for what’s next.” 

Dr. Murthy went on to discuss misinformation and youth mental health as critical public health crises that urgently demand our attention. (Read his full remarks.)

Recordings from every session are available on our Forum platform through October 14 – you can login if you are already registered; if you missed it, you can still register for free and watch all the great conversations.

Special thanks to our supporting sponsors, Moderna and Sanofi, and to all of the sponsors who made the 2022 National Health Research Forum possible.

On the Hill: Not unexpected, but still a strategic mistake: rather than finalizing a new spending blueprint for the federal government by the September 30 deadline, it is anticipated that Congress will go the all-too-familiar “continuing resolution” route, flat funding federal agencies and programs until mid-December. Thank you to the more than 110 organizations that joined our letter making it clear that advocates will not contribute to normalizing counter-strategic budget delays by remaining silent when they occur!

As Admiral Rachel L. Levine, MD, Assistant Secretary for Health at HHS, reminded us in her Forum remarks: “Health crises don’t take turns.” We need timely funding for research and public health to address not just current challenges, but evolving and future threats.

A Path to Reauthorization for Two Legislative Priorities: There is one piece of good news regarding a Continuing Resolution — Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member Richard Burr (R-NC) announced today that a five-year reauthorization of the FDA user fee programs will be included in the CR legislation (read coverage in The Hill). Unless the CR is derailed –and we don’t think it will be – advocates like you can take a bow for your emails and tweets pressing for action!

Your advocacy has also contributed to another milestone: after months of negotiation, it appears the SBIR/STTR small business grant programs will be reauthorized by the September 30 statutory deadline. On Tuesday, the Senate passed legislation that introduces a number of new protections intended to diversify the base of grantees and protect against undue foreign influence. Defense Daily provides a good summary of those changes. It is anticipated the House will pass the Senate bill as soon as today.

In his Forum conversation with PBS NewsHour Anchor Judy Woodruff, NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan, PhD, walked through an example of how investments from NSF and the SBIR program seeded innovation and enabled an early synthetic biology company in Boston to take root, grow, and flourish. (Watch this Day 1 conversation on the Forum platform.)

Upcoming Alliance Meeting: Next week we will be joined by Daniel Pham, Cara Altimus, and Emily Baxi from the newly launched collective Breakthrough Discoveries for Thriving with Bipolar Disorder (BD²). BD² is a collective force transforming what we know about and how we treat bipolar disorder. It’s a commitment to the 40 million people living with bipolar disorder, those not yet diagnosed, and their loved ones. Keep an eye on your inboxes for registration information.

Stay well, stay safe, and stay connected.