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America Speaks on Food and Nutrition

I joined Research!America board member Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association (AHA), and other leaders, in Chicago this week to celebrate AHA’s 100th anniversary. Research!America, in collaboration with AHA, released topline findings of a new public opinion survey on food and nutrition. The survey shows the American public is keenly aware of the high levels of obesity and unhealthy eating in the US. High cost and limited access to healthy food were cited at the top of the list of barriers to better eating habits. The survey revealed that roughly 1 out of 5 Americans experienced persistent hunger in the past year, a shocking finding. On the positive side, I am encouraged that 75% of respondents believe the U.S. government should fund research to better understand how to help people make behavioral changes to address health threats such as obesity, hypertension, and diabetes. 

The AHA is committed to averting a potential crisis of health and economic burdens due to rising rates of cardiovascular disease and obesity. Our survey provides a baseline to evaluate progress in years ahead. Take a moment to review the report AHA, Deloitte, and Research!America released Monday on the intersection between food and health. We will be featuring more on our survey in the weeks ahead.

On the Hill: The House Appropriations Committee continued to markup and move appropriations bills forward this week. Meanwhile, the Senate Appropriations Committee has not yet established its “topline” defense and non-defense spending levels, the precursor to developing individual appropriations bills. If you have not yet taken action to urge your congressional representatives to support research agencies through the FY25 appropriations process, now is the time! Use our editable action alert to contact your federal representatives. 

Reps. Diana DeGette (D-CO) and Larry Bucshon, MD (R-IN) have circulated a letter seeking input on key questions to inform “Cures 3.0,” the latest iteration of the landmark 21st Century Cures Act. That bipartisan legislation, which was signed into law in 2016, codified important policy reforms and funding aimed at accelerating medical and public health progress. To get a feel for the broad scope of this law, see this summary. Watch this space for information about an upcoming alliance member-only brainstorming session focused on Reps. DeGette and Bucshon’s request for input. 

Building Skills & Resumes at the Early Career Summit: Yesterday, we hosted our second Early Career Summit session, which featured Dr. Josh Henkin’s informative (and lively!) workshop on building a strong resume. There is still time to register for our remaining two sessions: a primer on science policy and advocacy and a session on the art of science communication. Secure your spot today!

Langer Honored with Kavli Prize: A special shout-out to Robert Langer, ScD, of MIT, a 2016 Research!America Advocacy Awards winner, who has been announced as co-winner of the 2024 Kavli Prize in Nanoscience. He is recognized for work that “revolutionized the field of nanomedicine by demonstrating how engineering nanoscale materials can advance biomedical research and application.” That work has contributed greatly to the development of therapies, vaccines, bioimaging, and diagnostics, according to the prize organizers. Congratulations to Bob and all the winners of this year’s Kavli Prizes.

A STEM Workforce for Tomorrow: The Science and Technology Action Committee (STAC) has launched the final phase of a campaign highlighting key themes of the State of Science in America report. STAC released this statement calling for policies and funding to boost the U.S. STEM workforce, an essential component in maintaining U.S. leadership in science and technology. Simply put, the talent pipeline is not keeping pace with the upcoming demand for STEM jobs, particularly in the AI sector. We can’t let this happen! Advocacy is essential and STAC invites you to join our campaign. Share our campaign on LinkedIn and X (Twitter).

Seeking Input from Alliance Members: We are hosting a brainstorming session tomorrow (June 14) at 11 a.m. ET for Research!America alliance members to think through the implications of potential changes that could impact the future of the NIH and the research it supports and conducts. The key question is simply, should the NIH play a role in product pricing and access? This question is important and timely, as evidenced by recent policy developments, including:

  1. A National Institute of Standards and Technology-issued draft interagency “march-in” framework that places NIH in the position of monitoring the list prices of drugs and rescinding technology transfer agreements if prices are deemed unreasonable; and
  2. an NIH Request for Information focused on requiring “product access plans” as a condition for licensing of patents held solely by NIH.

If you are a member of a Research!America alliance organization, I encourage you to register.

Repurposing Medications for New Uses: ICYMI, Dr. David Fajgenbaum, President and Co-founder of Every Cure, led a fascinating discussion today on finding new uses of approved drugs, otherwise known as drug “repurposing.” His ordeal with Castleman disease led him on a journey to find an existing medication to treat his rare disease off-label (in fact, up to a third of prescriptions written today are off-label – medications that are already FDA-approved can and should be put to work elsewhere!). He discussed how his nonprofit uses AI algorithms to efficiently link existing medications to treat one or more other diseases. Fajgenbaum recently received ARPA-H funding, a clear indication that his insights and hard work are driving innovation that promises to serve us all. I encourage you to watch and learn from his presentation.

Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering Discussion: Dr. Bruce Tromberg, Director of the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), will be the guest speaker at a virtual alliance discussion taking place on Thursday, June 20, at 12 p.m. ET. We’ve asked Dr. Tromberg to share NBIB’s role in advancing early detection, accurate diagnosis, and effective treatment of a host of deadly and debilitating health threats. Register here.