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Americans Are Worried

Lots to talk about today. Stick with me!

A report released Tuesday by the nonpartisan Science and Technology Action Committee, which I co-chair with Sudip Parikh, Bill Novelli, and Keith Yamamoto, issues a clarion call to our nation’s policymakers: take action now to assure this nation remains prosperous, secure, and globally competitive. Among its recommendations, the report urges the development and funding of a national S&T strategic plan equipping our nation to confront the existential threats of our time. 

The report, which has already been seen by nearly 185 million people nationwide and covered by major media outlets including Axios, NBC, Yahoo, and The Washington Post, includes findings from a survey of five sectors of the workforce and expert input. Among major findings, only 8% of respondents believe the U.S. will be the global leader in S&T in five years, ceding leadership to China. Respondents are concerned about the declining quality of K-12 STEM education, and 70% say children today will grow up worse off than previous generations. (That finding takes my breath away and should be addressed in debates and town halls in 2024.)

To reverse these disturbing trends, respondents support greater federal investment in S&T and development of a national plan. Experts agree. Action is an imperative. 

Tune in at 2 p.m. ET, on Tuesday, December 12, for a Washington Post Live virtual event, The Future of American Innovation, that will delve into the report and its alarming (and, in some respects, promising) implications. 

Are S&T Champions Born or Made? Not coincidentally, our virtual alliance discussion this week featured 2024 Herbert Pardes Family Award for National Leadership in Advocacy for Research honoree Norm Augustine, a fierce, effective, and remarkably humble advocate for S&T, in conversation with the Honorable Bart Gordon, another major force in S&T advocacy. Treat yourself to this recording.

A New Challenge for a New Director: I had the privilege of attending the swearing-in ceremony for Dr. Monica Bertagnolli this week. Your advocacy helped break the logjam that delayed her confirmation. She has hit the ground running and has a full agenda. An announcement today lengthens that list.    

Unfortunately, the Department of Commerce has for the first time issued a framework for public comment requiring NIH and other research agencies to add price setting to their list of responsibilities, gutting public-academic-private sector technology transfer agreements as the “penalty” for prices they judge to be “unreasonable.” Read our press statement in opposition to compromising the integrity of technology transfer – a more than 30-years strong, bipartisan solution for R&D roadblocks, and stay tuned for an alliance discussion announcement to explore, in detail, this severely detrimental action.

On The Hill: Congress is juggling several time-sensitive priorities, including attempting to negotiate new “topline” funding levels to guide House-Senate negotiations on final FY24 appropriations bills. Let me thank appropriations expert and principal at Cornerstone Government Affairs, Erik Fatemi, for sharing this remarkably user-friendly “FAQ” on the appropriations landscape.

Note: If your organization is an alliance member, mark your calendars for Thursday, January 4, at aa a.m. ET, when Erik will present an update as the appropriations clock ticks down once again.

Please take action: As you know, we are providing new graphics each week making the case for completing the FY24 appropriations process and boosting funding for research. Tweet this week’s graphic to your representatives in the House and Senate and use this editable email to raise the volume higher. #CuresNotCuts

Communicating About Clinical Trials: According to a new survey commissioned by Research!America in partnership with the Association of Clinical Research Organizations, a large majority of U.S. adults (87%) agree that health care providers should discuss clinical trials with patients diagnosed with a disease as part of their standard of care. More than 60% agree that providers should discuss participation in clinical trials as a regular part of care, regardless of whether a patient is sick. Yet few report their doctor or health care provider has ever talked with them about clinical research (36%). (There are compelling reasons for this – one of the less-than-straightforward challenges in need of solutions.) 

This survey – see the press release and survey deck for additional insights – is not only meant to raise awareness, but to inspire action. Our previous survey led to a cross-sector collaboration that helped prompt and inform the ClinicalTrials.gov modernization initiative. We welcome your input as we explore joint efforts to act on the survey insights.

Meeting The Moment: Join us on Tuesday, December 12, at 2:30 p.m. ET, for a discussion with Dr. Celine Gounder, Senior Fellow and Editor-at-Large for Public Health, KFF Health News, CBS contributor, and recipient of Research!America’s 2024 Meeting the Moment for Public Health Award. Dr. Gounder will share insights from her career in epidemiology and health reporting on how to tackle large-scale health threats, from smallpox to COVID-19, and accelerate the pace of medical progress. I look forward to moderating the conversation.