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R&D Drives Jobs, Competitiveness

Dear Research Advocate,

President Biden opened his State of the Union address by condemning Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and commending the bravery and resilience of the Ukrainian people. Turning next to the economy, he emphasized the vital role of federal R&D and public-private partnerships in creating jobs, assuring better health, and driving global competitiveness.

As part of his “unity agenda” he called on Congress to take specific steps to address the opioid epidemic, mental illness, veterans’ well-being, and cancer. He also urged Congress to complete work on bipartisan competitiveness legislation and called for the establishment of ARPA-H (see our statement and an article from Bloomberg).

The 1980 Bayh-Dole Act is an example of driving productive synergy between public and private R&D investment. Research!America sent a letter to HHS Secretary Becerra this week emphasizing the importance of maintaining intellectual property provisions that enable the public and private sectors to work in tandem to bring life-saving medications to patients.

On the Hill: The Biden Administration submitted its FY22 supplemental funding request to Congress today. The request includes critically needed funding to enable public-private partnerships to act quickly to produce a vaccine that is more protective against COVID-19 variants. Our nation cannot afford to roll the dice when it comes to the potential for another variant, one that could be more destructive than those we have already experienced.

Meanwhile, the federal government has been operating under last year’s budget for 153 days. It is time for Congress to enact a FY22 budget, including this much-needed supplemental funding, that meets the needs the country faces now. Please tweet Senate and House appropriations leaders (Sens. Leahy and Shelby and Reps. DeLauro and Granger) thanking them for all their hard work and encouraging them to get us over the finish line.

In addition, we urge the Administration to increase investment in R&D in its FY23 budget request, which could be released as early as next week.[SM1]  As President Biden noted, “to compete for the jobs of the future, we also need to level the playing field with China and other competitors … We used to invest 2 percent of our GDP in research and development. We don’t now…China is [doing just that].” The Science & Technology Action Committee (STAC) will be calling attention to this and related points via a timely ad campaign over the next few weeks. Look for STAC in Politico’s Morning Tech and CQ Roll Call and join us in engaging on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Rare Disease Advocacy: Wednesday marked the conclusion of Virtual Rare Disease Week on Capitol Hill 2022, organized by EveryLife Foundation, during which advocates from across the country shared compelling stories with policymakers and made the case for more research. Read our new post about the promise of rapid Whole Genome Sequencing (rWGS) to diagnose rare diseases in infants, allowing for the earliest possible treatment.

Celebrating Women: As part of Women’s History Month, Smithsonian museums are celebrating women in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) with 120 3D-printed, bright orange, life-sized sculptures. The collaboration between the Smithsonian and Lyda Hill Philanthropies’ IF/THEN Initiative connects young girls with women STEM leaders and is part of a month-long slate of virtual and in-person events.

On Tuesday, March 8, from 1 to 2:30 p.m., join the World Woman Foundation for the premier of the 2022 World Woman Hour as they celebrate 60 women leaders who have followed their dreams and made a difference. I’m honored to be included.

ICYMI: Speaking of celebrating remarkable women, on Wednesday we heard from France A. Córdova, PhD, President of the Science Philanthropy Alliance. Dr. Córdova shared her experience as a leader in science, academia, and philanthropy. The conversation ranged from the cosmos, including the excitement of heading NSF when the first image of a black hole was captured, to more earth-based topics like the importance of developing mentorship relationships. Watch the discussion.

Dr. Córdova is Research!America’s 2022 Geoffrey Beene Foundation Builders of Science Award honoree. Mark your calendars for 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday, March 16, for our 2022 Advocacy Awards program. Registration is free and open to all.

Upcoming Alliance Meeting: Join us Wednesday, March 9, at 2 p.m. ET for a conversation with Research!America Board Member Darío Gil, PhD, Senior Vice President and Director of Research at IBM, who will speak about the exciting promise of quantum computing in medical R&D, ethical issues in neurotechnology, and the security of personal medical data.

DOD Research Funding Workshop: Join us on Thursday, March 10, 1 to 2:30 pm ET, for a workshop on securing medical research funding from the Department of Defense (DOD). Federal funding consultant Liz Barrows will explain current funding opportunities, provide tips on how to maximize the chances of securing a grant, and field questions. While this program is focused primarily on infectious diseases, Liz will also provide insights and tips useful for any researcher seeking funding from the DOD.

Stay well, stay safe, and stay connected. 

Mary Woolley

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