Home » Mary Woolley's Weekly Letter » Devil in the Details

Devil in the Details

Dear Research Advocate,

First, some positive news: The 2023 Edelman Trust Barometer, an annual global survey released this week, finds scientists to be trusted by 76% of respondents slightly more than last year and scoring higher than government leaders, journalists, CEOs and even one’s neighbors. The survey also examined how trust can impact polarization. Unfortunately, the U.S. fared poorly with regard to polarization one of six countries landing in Edelman’s “severely polarized” zone. It’s worth digging into the findings. Stay tuned for results from Research!America’s national January survey!

On the Hill: Partisan disagreement about how to handle the debt ceiling surely feeds into our polarization. The U.S. reached the debt ceiling this week not the first time in recent history. While the Treasury Department is able to use ‘extraordinary measures’ to pay the debt over the next several months, some in Congress are demanding a spending cap that would hold FY24 funding to FY22 levels as a condition to raising the ceiling. It’s a blunt instrument that doesn’t take into account the needs and priorities of the American people.   

This would mean substantial budget cuts for virtually all federal research agencies before FY23 funding has barely made it out the door. As advocates, it’s critical to communicate the damage to the pace of medical, public health, and scientific advancement that this draconian measure would inflict and to equip our champions in Congress with the information they need. Use this editable email to let your representatives in Congress know how crucial sustained growth of federal research funding at NIH, CDC, FDA, NSF and other agencies is for progress.

Speaking of NIH, Research!America’s Ellie Dehoney spent time with RollCall to discuss the search for the agency’s next permanent director.

Building on science to benefit all: Despite the currently challenging political environment, a current Washington Post opinion piece (note the paywall) focuses on recent scientific achievements in the U.S. that have delivered answers (mRNA vaccines) and others that promise progress if we keep moving in the right direction. As Sethuraman Panchanathan, National Science Foundation (NSF) Director explained, “We should rejoice, but also talk about what we need to do to stay ahead.” 

Devil in the Details: The new Medicare drug pricing provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) are controversial to say the least. Much of the impact on patients and on the medical R&D ecosystem will be determined by how the law is carried out at the agency level. CMS will play the major role in implementation and recently released its plan which includes extensive stakeholder input. We will be featuring speakers at upcoming alliance discussions to shed more light on the implementation process and its implications.

Onward Civic Science!: 20 graduate student groups from across the country have been chosen to participate in the fifth year of Research!America’s Early Career Microgrant program supported by the Rita Allen Foundation. Learn more about the selected projects from Utah, Tennessee, Missouri and 12 other states. Read about the outcomes and lessons learned from the first four years of the program in this report.

ICYMI: On Tuesday, we were joined by Dr. Pamela Davis, professor at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and Research!America’s 2023 Herbert Pardes Family Award for National Leadership in Research Advocacy. Dr. Davis, a renowned clinician, researcher and educator, and her colleague, Dr. Heidi Gullett, spoke about their innovative approach to involving the Cleveland community in the research process in order to address health disparities. (Watch the conversation.)

Upcoming Alliance Discussion: Join us for an alliance discussion featuring Dr. Margaret Hamburg next Wednesday, January 25, at 1:30 p.m. ET. Margaret Hamburg, MD, is a former FDA Commissioner and internationally recognized leader in public health, medicine, and biomedical research and innovation. She will talk about her work as an advocate for medical progress with lessons for us all. Dr. Hamburg is the recipient of the Research!America’s 2023 Outstanding Achievement in Public Health Award, generously supported by Johnson & Johnson.

Members-only Meeting:  If your organization is a member of Research!America, please join us on Monday, February 6, from 12:00-12:45 p.m. ET. for a closed door discussion with congressional and executive branch veterans from both sides of the aisle, Julie Hershey Carr and Lisa Kountoupes, on the complex funding, policy, and regulatory climate in Washington. We’ll be reaching out to alliance members with a link and hope you’ll bring your questions! If your organization is not an alliance member and you are interested in learning more about membership, connect with Joel Nepomuceno, Director of Membership.