Dear Research Advocate,
On the Hill: A number of research-related initiatives are in the mix — including major, multi-year investments in NSF and pandemic preparedness — as negotiations continue on the content and price tag of the reconciliation bill, also known as Build Back Better. The bill is distinct from the annual appropriations process, which has been put on hold until December 3 via a continuing resolution (CR).
Readers of this letter will likely agree Congress should not wait until December before enacting a new budget for FY22. It is not possible to put debilitating health threats on hold, and meanwhile, early career researchers are again wondering whether their work will have a future, given unsure support. Please consider having your organization or institution join our sign-on letter urging congressional leaders to act without delay (sign-on deadline is October 20).
Drafting of a bipartisan pandemic preparedness bill in the Senate is well underway. Key elements are said to include aspects of bolstering public health infrastructure, such as improved data collection, data modernization, and support for laboratories. We have been told a discussion draft will be released for comment, though there is no release date as yet.
Future FDA Leadership: It’s been widely reported the Senate may soon have another pressing task: confirming Dr. Robert Califf as FDA Commissioner. We strongly supported his nomination in 2015 when he won Senate approval 89 to 4, and would be proud to support him again. We urge the Administration to grant confirmation as expeditiously as possible.
Since January 2021, Dr. Janet Woodcock has led the FDA as Acting Commissioner. Her leadership and deep wealth of regulatory expertise have been key to bringing about rapid pace interventions against the pandemic.
2022 Advocacy Awards: Each year, we have the honor of celebrating exceptional leaders who have propelled life-saving medical and health research to the next level. We are thrilled to announce the 2022 Advocacy Awards honorees! Francis S. Collins, MD, PhD, director of the National Institutes of Health, will receive the John Edward Porter Legacy Award, generously supported by Ann Lurie. Four other distinguished awardees were cited in this week’s announcement, with more awards to be announced in the weeks ahead (stay tuned!).
Plan now to join us on March 16, 2022, to recognize and be inspired by these leaders and their stories of persistence, achievement, and service to the public. Contact Katie Goode for more information and sponsorship opportunities.
Future Awardees?: Which early career scientists will spur the discoveries and innovations of tomorrow; which will lead the institutions and research advocacy efforts of the future? Research!America’s Civic Engagement Microgrant Initiative provides support and training for graduate student and postdoc-led groups to develop skills in science policy, communication, and public engagement. Applications close on October 19. Read a microgrant spotlight from four students in last year’s cohort who joined forces to start a science policy podcast, and encourage applicants for this round!
Considering the Future Down Under: Research!America partner Research Australia is convening researchers, health service providers, and consumers around five challenges to Australia’s health and medical research system in the wake of the pandemic. Their innovative, web-based approach is a worthy model for fostering substantive dialogue with all stakeholders.
Planning for the Future at Home: The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and NIH are hosting another ARPA-H listening session on October 20 at 2:30 p.m. ET. It will focus on key themes from the previous 15 sessions, as well as how ARPA-H can engage most effectively with stakeholders. Submit your comments and questions to ARPAHcomments@nih.gov prior to the session, and/or register to attend.
A Future of Research Excellence, Integrity, and Trust: On October 25 at noon ET, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine will hold the first meeting of its new Strategic Council for Research Excellence, Integrity, and Trust. Register for the event, open to the public, for discussion of key challenges in research ethics, policies to address research ethics, how to catalyze change, and more.
Opinion Workshop: Writing opinion pieces is one of the many ways scientists can and should engage with the public. At our National Health Research Forum, John Siniff, executive vice president at Subject Matter and former opinion editor at USA Today, provided terrifically useful information for your next op-ed. Watch the workshop (supported in part by a grant from the Rita Allen Foundation).
Alliance Meeting Recap: This week, Jane Bigham, MPH, Senior Health Policy Advisor with the Senate HELP Committee, joined us to talk about Committee Chair Patty Murray’s (D-WA) work on comprehensive bipartisan pandemic preparedness legislation. This meeting was not recorded; contact us if you would like to know more or join us for future alliance member-only meetings.
Upcoming Alliance Meeting: Join us on October 21 at 11:30 ET to hear from Grace Graham, Chief Counsel of the Health Subcommittee for House E&C Committee Ranking Member Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), for an additional members-only, off-the-record conversation about pandemic preparedness legislation.
Stay well, stay safe, and stay connected.