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Keeping a finger on the public pulse

Dear Research Advocate:

Speaking recently to the “New Voices” group at the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine, as well as to young scientists during a visit to the University of Miami, I was energized by the passion, determination and commitment they all have for engaging the public. I discussed highlights of the survey findings we feature in Research!America’s new poll data summary A new survey question probes awareness and support for engagement of scientists in the policy making process.  Other survey highlights include trend data that might surprise you — like the 10% increase since 2015 in those who say they would be willing to pay more in taxes if the money went to medical research — and also some trend data that is discouraging, such as waning public confidence in US global science leadership. As advocates, it is important to be informed about public sentiment. If you want to use any of this data in presentations, please contact Terri Schwartzbeck at tschwartzbeck@researchamerica.org for ready-to-go slides.

The Raise the Caps campaign is gaining momentum daily, thanks to our partners’ support and individuals getting involved. Ads have run this week in the Hill, Washington Examiner, Washington Post, and Politico. On social media, our tweets have had over 47,000 impressions and the hashtag #RaisetheCaps has garnered more than 3.2 million impressions. It’s important to keep the momentum strong until the caps are lifted! Sign the petition today and continue to participate, including on our newly launched Instagram, @research_america.  

Yesterday, our March alliance member meeting featured Laura Friedel, Senate Labor, Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee Clerk.  Laura reported the Senate plans to mark up all FY20 appropriations legislation before the 4th of July recess. She also noted that the Senate saw success in combining consideration of appropriations bills in FY19 and might use a similar process for FY20.

On behalf of our broad membership, Research!America submitted testimony to House Labor, Health and Human Services, Education appropriations subcommittee today urging support of robust budgets for NIH, CDC, and AHRQ. Please feel free to use our testimony as a template as you draft your own.

During the alliance member call, we provided an update on efforts to repeal the medical device tax this Congress.  As you may recall, the 115th Congress wrapped up without enacting a permanent repeal measure. The 2.3% tax disincentivizes R&D investment in the tools used everyday to identify, track and treat serious medical conditions, like miniature heart pumps to decrease heart attacks and diagnostic tests to guide the treatment of blood cancers.  Representatives Ron Kind (D-WI) and Jackie Walorski (R-IN) will introduce repeal legislation next week. Urge your Representative to become a cosponsor.    

Speaking of cancer diagnostics, I encourage you to make use of our new cancer fact sheet in your advocacy work. Oncologist and Pulitzer-prize winning author Siddhartha Mukherjee, MD, DPhil, recently honored at our advocacy awards event, brought to mind that 1.7 million people in the U.S. received a cancer diagnosis in 2018. Investment in research and new technologies have helped spur the development of treatments and cures, giving newly-diagnosed patients a higher chance of survival than ever before. One of the hopeful statistics in our factsheet: the five-year survival rate for childhood cancer grew from 58% in the 1970s to over 80% today. Continued progress relies on the strongest research investment possible. We are far from the finish line. Let’s make sure we get there.  

I mentioned our recent awards event.  Check out awardees’ remarks and photos on our website, and think about who you will nominate for our 2020 awards. Nominations open next month. Watch this space for details!



Mary Woolley