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Tweet First, Then March for Science

Dear Research Advocate:

Is a rescission proposal to cut funding from the recently enacted FY18 omnibus appropriations bill possible? Unfortunately, we can’t rule it out, despite indications from some House and Senate Republicans that they would not vote to backpedal from approved spending. But, we have also been hearing that agencies are having to plan for a possible rescission and a recent article in Politico quotes Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) saying “it’s worth a discussion.”  

I urge you to join that discussion. Backtracking on support for science is not a productive way forward for a nation proud to set the world’s global economic high-water mark. Whether you took action on this last week or not, please tweet your elected officials now through our action center.

Yesterday, the House LHHS Appropriations Subcommittee held a hearing with NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins to talk about the administration’s FY19 budget request. Director Collins opined: “… it is a good time to think about those early stage researchers, and to ask ‘what are we doing to foster this next generation of discovery?’” NIH is in fact doing a great deal, a point brought out today with the release of a new National Academies of Science (NAS) report, The Next Generation of Biomedical and Behavioral Sciences Researchers: Breaking Through.  

Committee Chair Ron Daniels, the president of Johns Hopkins University, emphasized that it’s not enough for NIH to continue to act (providing some new recommendations in that regard); there are critical new recommendations for academia as well. The enthusiasm reflected by recent postdoc Kaf Dzirasa, M.D., Ph.D., a member of the committee, for the shared responsibilities the report outlines was especially important to hear, as were recommendations designed to maximize the entrepreneurial energy and talents of young scientists, whether they pursue a career in academia, industry — including start ups — foundations, government or otherwise.

Over the last few days I was fortunate to meet a number of young scientists (both students and postdocs) — just the people whom the new NAS report is determined to empower. During visits to Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute and George Washington University, I listened to award-winning student research presentations (at GWU) and met with students and postdocs to hear about their career hopes and what they find most challenging (VTCRI). I believe they will be pleased to read the new report!

This Saturday, April 14, is the 2nd March for Science. Research!America is proud to be a partner once again — it’s exciting to hear that there will be more than 230 events around the world!  A timely article points out that participating in the March for Science last year empowered scientists to take their advocacy to the next level, so that every #actuallivingscientist contributes to heightening the public visibility and relevance of science. I will be joining the American Association for the Advancement of Science and other partners for the March for Science event in Washington, D.C. — hope to see you there!   


Mary Woolley