Home » Mary Woolley's Weekly Letter » Research is a Bargain

Research is a Bargain

Dear Research Advocate,

The National Retail Federation predicts Americans will spend $10.14 billion on Halloween this year; that’s almost double the $5.25 billion NIH will invest this year in research on dental/oral and craniofacial disease, diabetes, eating disorders, food allergies, nutrition, and obesity combined! 

I’m not suggesting we trade Halloween for medical research — by no means! The point is we can’t afford not to spend money on stopping disease in its tracks. (Our “Research Takes Cents” page offers additional eye-opening examples of consumer expenditures contrasted to research investment.) 

On the Hill: Speaking of the need for increased research funding, Congress has until midnight on December 3 to pass an FY22 appropriations package; otherwise, another continuing resolution (CR) will be needed to avoid a government shutdown. Thanks to all who joined our organizational sign-on letter urging prompt action on FY22 funding. Reportedly, House Appropriations Chair Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) has requested a meeting with the other leaders of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees to accelerate negotiations on an FY22 spending package.

Whether your organization had the chance to sign the letter or not, you can still take action: use this editable email to make the case for finishing the appropriations process before the 12/3 deadline.

Separately, negotiations between congressional Democrats and the Biden Administration on the “Build Back Better” reconciliation package have reached a fever pitch as the self-imposed end-of-month deadline looms. President Biden released a framework today for a pared down reconciliation package. Notably, the framework omits previously contemplated prescription drug pricing provisions, including giving the federal government the authority to negotiate drugs covered under Medicare Part D.

Several Democratic lawmakers have been quick to point out that the framework is not necessarily the final word — modifications can and likely will be made before the House and Senate vote on a reconciliation package.

Resilience and Research: A recent survey from the American Psychological Association (a Research!America alliance member) on “stress and decision-making during the pandemic” showed strong resilience and optimism among U.S. adults, despite the struggles of the last few years. The results are not all positive; the stressors of the pandemic highlight health disparities by age, income, household makeup, and race and ethnicity. Hispanic, Black, and Asian adults were less likely than non-Hispanic White adults to say they are faring well during the coronavirus pandemic. We must leverage research and harness the will to confront the many, many ways this pandemic has revealed — and exacerbated — entrenched inequities in our health and social service systems.

One related update: the Women’s Health Access Matters (WHAM) Hill briefing we mentioned last week took place this afternoon, and “The Case to Fund Women’s Health Research” report is now available.

Did You Know: Fungal infections tend to receive less attention than viral (e.g. COVID-19) or bacterial (e.g. TB) infections, even though their human and fiscal toll is staggering. Globally, over 300 million people are affected by a serious fungal infection. According to the CDC, fungal diseases in the U.S. caused $7.2 billion in direct medical costs in 2017.

Few Americans outside California and other Western states may be familiar with a fungal infection called Valley fever. Growing in prevalence, causing disproportionate harm when people of African or Filipino descent contract it, and too often manifesting in life-threatening or debilitating conditions like meningitis, Valley fever is emblematic of the under-recognized burden fungal infections impose. Read and share our newly released Fast Facts on Valley Fever

Earlier this month, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), along with Reps. David Schweikert (R-AZ), Karen Bass (D-CA), and Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ) introduced legislation focused on accelerating progress against Valley fever and other fungal infections. While Research!America does not endorse legislation that would parse NIH funding in specific ways, we are grateful that this bipartisan group of lawmakers is raising the profile of fungal infections, and more broadly, the value of research investment.

Opportunity for Action: One way to promote a greater federal emphasis on life-saving research is to comment on the HHS Draft Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2022–2026. A goal in the plan well worth reinforcing: Restore Trust and Accelerate Advancements in Science and Research for All. The public comment period closes November 7.

Alliance Meeting Recap: Joel White, Executive Director of the Health Innovation Alliance, and Pete Kirkham, President of Red Maple Consulting, joined us yesterday for a truly informative discussion. If you couldn’t join us but care about the future of digital health, ongoing access to telemedicine, and/or the likely timeline for wrapping up FY22 appropriations, watch the session now.

We’re Growing Our Team! Our Careers page lists several openings, with more to come. We’d appreciate it if you’d spread the word and share this link!

Stay well, stay safe, and stay connected.


Mary Woolley