Home » Mary Woolley's Weekly Letter » Champions, Challenges, Change

Champions, Challenges, Change

Mistrust and misinformation are not new. But in the digital world, they are ubiquitous. Our recent survey shows a high percentage of Americans (88%) are concerned about the impact of mis- and disinformation when it comes to public health, which can come down to life and death decision-making. 

The Coalition for Trust in Health & Science was launched today during the 2023 AAAS Annual Meeting. I am a member of the coordinating committee and Research!America is one of more than 50 national organizations who believe that – working together, learning from each other – we can curb the rise of mis- and disinformation. Our vision is to ensure that “all people have equitable access to the accurate, understandable, and relevant information necessary to make personally appropriate health choices and decisions.” We are in it for the long haul and encourage you to join us. (Read the Coalition’s press release.)

On The Hill: Congress is back in session this week and we’ve seen movement on FY24 appropriations in anticipation of the President’s Budget Request, scheduled for release on March 9. The House Appropriations committee released its guidance and deadlines for member appropriations requests (the list of funding priorities each representative submits to the committee). Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-LA), Chairman of the Labor-HHS Appropriations Subcommittee, has circulated a “Dear Colleague” letter (from member to member) to help clarify the subcommittee’s deadlines and expectations.  

Use this editable email to encourage your representatives in Congress to include robust funding for the NIH and our nation’s other research agencies among their appropriations priorities!

(Sidebar: I don’t know about you, but the moment I think I have the appropriations process down pat, I realize I need a quick reminder. Enter the Congressional Research Service (CRS). Its primer on the appropriations process tells all. For answers to virtually any federal policy-related question, this resource links to every CRS report.

Pandemic Preparedness RFI: Reps. Richard Hudson (R-NC) and Anna Eshoo (D-CA), senior members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, released a Request for Information (RFI) as they work together to shape legislation reauthorizing the Pandemic and All Hazards Preparedness Act (PAHPA). Reauthorizing this landmark law is critical as Congress and the Administration work to bolster our nation’s ability to preempt and respond to pandemics and other lethal public health threats. Comments are due by March 13.

Celebrating Our Champions: Our 2023 Advocacy Awards event is less than two weeks away. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senator Todd Young (R-IN) will be receiving the Edwin C. Whitehead Award for Medical Research Advocacy. These national leaders have demonstrated a rock solid commitment to making STEM, science policy, and research funding national priorities, and we are excited for the opportunity to celebrate and thank them. (Read our press release.)

Overdue: Postdoc training, salaries, and opportunities are overdue for an overhaul. A recent Science editorial from Research!America Board Member Sudip Parikh, PhD, president of AAAS, stresses that “students and postdocs deserve more.” It’s time to get involved to ensure there’s no backtracking as momentum builds. 

The NIH has organized a series of four listening sessions from March 8–20 to solicit community input on the postdoc training system. Register to attend and share your views. The NIH also has an RFI on postdoc training open through April 14.

ICYMI: Earlier this week we held an alliance member-only meeting focused on implementation of the prescription drug pricing-related provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). While these meetings are (by definition) closed-door, the IRA marks such an important and complex shift in federal treatment of R&D investment that we asked presenter Clay Alspach if we could share his slide deck more widely (thank you, Clay!). If your organization is interested in learning more about membership in the Research!America alliance, send a note to Joel Nepomuceno.

Upcoming Alliance Discussion: Join us on Monday, March 6, at 1 p.m. ET for a discussion with Caroline Montojo, Ph.D., President of the Dana Foundation. Dr. Montojo is a passionate leader committed to advancing, to quote the Foundation’s mission, “neuroscience that benefits society and reflects the aspirations of all people.” We’ll ask her to tell us more about this compelling mission as she shares highlights from a national survey on brain health and brain health research Research!America commissioned in partnership with the Foundation.  

Mourning a Leader: Nobel Laureate Paul Berg, PhD passed away recently at the age of 96. He was a gentle man and passionate leader who made as many friends as he did discoveries – his heart was in everything he did. The recipient of our 2003 Advocacy Award for Sustained Leadership at the National Level, Paul had a lasting impact on policy as well as science. We will miss you, Paul.

Stay well, stay safe, and stay connected