Home » Mary Woolley's Weekly Letter » Heroes Among Us

Heroes Among Us

Dear Research Advocate,

“The cost is billions. The return is trillions, and it’s priceless to patients and their families.” This characterization of the life-saving research NIH supports and conducts by Jed Manocherian, ACT for NIH Chairman and Founder, is emblematic of the affecting and thought-provoking discussions that took place throughout yesterday’s 2022 Advocacy Awards. (We were honored to recognize Jed with the Gordon and Llura Gund Leadership Award for his unparalleled NIH advocacy.

If you couldn’t join us “live,” check out this high-level recap of the program and watch the full event. We’d like to again express our appreciation to the honorees themselves, to the award benefactors and program sponsors, and to all who joined us for this truly inspiring program.

Appreciation Continued: Take a moment to thank your representatives in Congress for passing the Fiscal Year 2022 Omnibus spending package last week. It may have come far later than any of us would have liked, but this bipartisan legislation remains a major accomplishment reflecting enormous effort on the part of many members of Congress and their respective staff members. Use this editable email to thank your Representative, Senators, and their staff members.

On the Hill: A Special Issue of Science discusses the global community’s role fighting tooth and nail against COVID-19 for more than two years. At a markup this week, the Senate HELP committee approved legislation to incorporate lessons learned from this crisis and vastly improve future pandemic preparedness and response. The PREVENT Pandemics Act (S. 3799) passed the committee by a vote of 20-2. Eight amendments passed. Here is a list of these amendments with links to the full text.

Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-KY) amendment that would remove Dr. Anthony Fauci as Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) failed by a vote of 5-17. Prior to the committee markup, Research!America sent a letter to the Committee leadership opposing the Sen. Paul amendment.

ICYMI: Research!America hosted a roundtable discussion on S.3799 on March 14, during which we discussed the Omnibus package and the different versions of ARPA-H legislation that have been introduced (or signed into law, in the case of the Omnibus). Check out the slides from this meeting, and if your organization is not yet a Research!America member, reach out to Anna Platt to join us.

More on the Hill: The Senate Finance Committee held a hearing yesterday focused on prescription drug pricing. Research!America fully supports efforts to make healthcare more affordable in this nation, but we cannot continue (as we’ve asserted before) treating any single input into healthcare spending as if it operates in a vacuum. This approach contravenes the interactions between different kinds of healthcare in our system. There is no way to reliably address the costs of healthcare other than by taking a systemic approach that looks at these interactions.  

The House Energy & Commerce Committee held a hearing today that also bears critically on medical innovation – more on this extensive legislative hearing in next week’s letter.

More Work to Do: We mentioned expressing gratitude, even if it requires a glass half-full attitude. As you are undoubtedly aware and this article by Matt Hourihan of AAAS underscores, the Omnibus did not fund all science agencies as robustly as needed for the U.S. to remain economically competitive in the global arena and combat the host of existential threats we face.

A new S&T Action Committee (STAC) piece in Roll Call draws attention to the dangerous consequences of underinvestment in S&T. With convergence science playing an ever-increasing role in driving medical and public health progress, it is critical we fight together to lift all boats across the S&T ecosystem. Endorse the S&T Action Plan today.

Spread the Word!: On the communications front, the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine and Schmidt Futures have announced the Eric and Wendy Schmidt Awards for Science Communication. There are opportunities for monetary awards and communications training for graduate students, early career scientists, and mid- to later-career scientists. The April 3 deadline for submissions is fast approaching.

Upcoming Alliance Member Meeting: Join us on Wednesday, March 23, at 2 p.m. ET to welcome two extraordinary leaders to guide our discussion on research security: Toby Smith, Vice President for Science Policy & Global Affairs, Association of American Universities, and Dr. Christina C. Eller, Assistant Director for Evidence and Policy, Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Stay well, stay safe, and stay connected. 

Mary Woolley