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Celebration and Inspiration

Wednesday’s 2024 Advocacy Awards celebration at the National Academy of Sciences brought together the breadth of the research & development ecosystem – very much including patients – to honor truly inspiring leaders. Our awardees participated in two candid, fast-paced, and insight-filled panel discussions (watch for the recordings in next week’s letter), one on the state of science in America and the second on the vital ways U.S. and global health intersect. 

Lori Weiss, a patient advocate from the Alzheimer’s Association, demonstrated courage and commitment in talking about her own experience with Alzheimer’s, from helping her grandfather to her own diagnosis and participation in a clinical trial. She reminded us why advocacy matters.

Our thanks to Amgen, our corporate event sponsor, all of our terrific sponsors, and our benefactors, who made the event possible. 

See our photo highlights here.

On the Hill: First, work to complete FY24 appropriations continues: we expect to see bill text for the Labor-HHS and other remaining appropriations bills sometime this weekend or early next week. It appears that most, if not all, of the remaining bills will be signed into law on or before the March 22 deadline. 

Even as the FY24 funding process continues, the President released his FY25 budget proposal this week. It outlines flat-to-”catch up” funding for most research and public health agencies, selectively supplementing those totals with “mandatory” (off-budget) funding that, unfortunately, is likely to be aspirational rather than operational. Congress rarely approves mandatory funding, regardless of who proposes it. See our press release and budget chart. The bottom line: the President has provided a starting point: Our future as a nation and global community demands bolder investment in science, technology, and public health, and our job as advocates is to make that case.

A Nature article quoted our own Ellie Dehoney, Senior Vice President of Policy and Advocacy, about the president’s budget request and what it means in terms of our global competitiveness. “Overall, ‘these are disappointing numbers,’ Ellie says. This is not ‘what the United States needs to stay in the lead’ of biomedical research.’” 

Do You Have 20 Minutes? You Can Make a Difference: One particularly impactful way to make your voice heard in Congress is to contribute to the annual appropriations prioritization process. Each member of your congressional delegation has a system in place to consider input from constituents as they determine which appropriations priorities to promote for inclusion in annual appropriations bills. You can advocate for stronger funding for NIH, CDC, FDA, AHRQ, NSF, BARDA, ARPA-H, or any other agency or program. To weigh in with any or all members of your congressional delegation, use this quick “how to” we prepared, including a template to expedite the process. And as always, let us know if we can help! 

Alliance Members-Only Meeting: If your organization is a member of the Research!America alliance, please join us on March 26, at noon ET, for an off-the-record, members-only meeting with fan favorite Erik Fatemi, Principal at Cornerstone Government Affairs. We’ll confront what’s probable and possible on the FY25 funding front and catch up on such R&D-relevant issues as the NIST march-in framework. Email Jacqueline Lagoy for the registration link.

A Key Tool for Advocacy: Yesterday, the National Science Board released a new and expanded version of its annual “The State of U.S. Science and Engineering Report.” This report, a useful advocacy tool, is chock full of national and local statistics as well as pertinent information on science and engineering activity in East and Southeast Asia. 

Working for, and inspired by, Veterans: From conducting the first trials of effective tuberculosis treatments to homing in on a novel new treatment for viral threats, the VA has long been at the forefront of research advances that benefit veterans and us all. On Thursday, March 21, at noon ET, we’ll have an alliance discussion with Rashi Romanoff, Chief Executive Officer, and Liz Stout, Communications and Public Policy Administrator of the  National Association of Veterans’ Research and Education Foundations. As the VA celebrates an extraordinary milestone in its landmark 1 Million Veteran research initiative (teaser!), join us for a lunchtime look at an unsung research ecosystem responsible for untold medical and public health progress. Register now.

Honoring Inspirational Science Communicators: The submission period is now open for the 2024 Eric and Wendy Schmidt Awards for Excellence in Science Communications, given by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in partnership with Schmidt Sciences. With categories for researchers, journalists, and science communicators, these special cash awards recognize and help nurture skills critical to the future of science itself. The submission period ends March 31. Spread the word about these awards!