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Three ways to let the Senate know your views

Dear Research Advocate:

President Trump signed the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 (NDAA), authorizing $716 billion in spending for the Department of Defense (DoD). R&D features prominently, including the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP), the WRAIR Labs, and other medical and public health research pivotal to domestic and global health security. A particularly compelling example of the value of defense research is the recent story of the youngest person to receive a face transplant in U.S. history, part of a research study DoD funded because of its critical applications for wounded warriors. Read more in this USA Today article.

The NDAA authorizes defense funding; appropriations is a separate process. In a new and refreshing approach, the Senate introduced a combined Department of Defense/Labor, Health and Human Services FY19 funding package yesterday, and will consider amendments next week. Let’s give policymakers the encouragement they need to cross the finish line before the fiscal year begins. Please Tweet your Representative and two Senators, asking them to push for completing the appropriations process.

Speaking of the Senate, take a look at this bipartisan legislation, the “National Economic Security Strategy Act of 2018” (S.2757), which would require development of a national plan for leveraging assets like R&D to secure the U.S. economy and address long and short-term threats to U.S. prosperity. If you believe as I do that our nation should be proactively engaged in leveraging R&D and other strengths to ensure we can meet the challenges before us, send an email urging your Senators to cosponsor!  

Another advocacy opportunity: Urge swift Senate review of Dr. Kelvin Droegemeier for the post of OSTP Director. Research!America has joined the American Chemical Society and other organizations in a letter supporting Dr. Droegemeier’s nomination. There are 30 signatories and counting. The deadline is tomorrow; to sign on contact Karen Garcia at k_garcia@acs.org.   

Please make sure Thursday, September 6 is on your calendar. Our annual National Health Research Forum at the Newseum in Washington will be held from 10:15 am – 2:30 pm EST.  Distinguished leaders will gather for straight talk about the science behind medical and public health progress. How can we outpace drug-resistant superbugs? How is the BRAIN initiative changing the trajectory of neuroscience?  Is digital health the future of health care? The forum is at capacity, but please check our website for the livestream link, which will be posted soon.  We urge you to capture the content for use in workshops and classrooms.

One of our forum panels will focus on what’s new, and what’s needed, as the discovery, development, and delivery continuum works around (and against) the clock to accelerate medical and public health progress. AHRQ Director Gopal Khanna, who will serve on that panel, recently announced an emblematic microgrant program to spur the development of apps that help connect patients to research in new ways. Challenges like this not only promote solutions, they promote research participation. With other noted panelists like NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins and Biden Cancer Initiative President Greg Simon joining us, the discussion will be sure to touch on the “All of Us” Initiative and other groundbreaking efforts to open the doors far wider to further research participation. I urge us all to advocate for innovative projects like these to help bring about a paradigm shift that makes research participation the welcome and expected default setting. 


Mary Woolley