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Strong Support for Federal Research

Dear Research Advocate,

As we head into the Independence Day weekend, Congress is busy on a number of fronts. The House Appropriations Committee appears on track to meet its goal of passing all 12 of its FY23 appropriations bills by the time members leave for August recess. The Committee has already marked up several funding bills of particular importance to medical and public health progress. As we note in our press statement, we were pleased to see substantive increases for NIH, CDC, FDA, NSF, AHRQ, and the second year of funding for ARPA-H (read on for details of our alliance discussion this week, which discussed the state of ARPA-H).

Please use this editable tweet to thank House Appropriations leadership for their work to advance FY23 appropriations legislation containing strong medical and health research investments.

More work for research advocates lies ahead. Despite the progress by the House, the outlook for a timely federal funding consensus is concerning. Without effective advocacy, the Senate may not reach an agreement on overall discretionary spending before the current fiscal year ends on September 30. Unfortunately – perpetuating a distressing pattern – Congress may pass a continuing resolution in September to fund the government until an FY23 spending agreement can be reached. More to come on this, including action steps to take.

Competitiveness Legislation: Reports are that Senate and House conferees working on the bipartisan USICA-COMPETES conference are making headway in ironing out differences between the two chambers. The legislation will “make essential investments in research, development, STEM education, and other aspects of the U.S. S&T infrastructure that will help to secure our country’s economic and national security for decades to come,” as stated in a recent letter from the Science Technology Action Committee to congressional leadership.

Bayh-Dole Update: The 1980 Bayh-Dole Act is an example of driving productive synergy between public and private R&D investment. This week, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) sent a letter signed by 100 Democratic members of Congress to HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra urging the Department to “march-in” on (take away) intellectual property rights transferred from the federal government if the prices of therapeutic advances developed under those rights are deemed too high.

Read our March letter to Sec. Becerra opposing this “march-in” strategy. While it is critical to act on concrete strategies to reduce costs across the healthcare system, mis-applying the march-in provisions of the Bayh-Dole Act, one of our most successful technology transfer laws, will backfire on patients and future medical progress. We will continue to address this topic in future letters.

Addressing Mental Health: Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, MD, has made youth mental health – including the effects of media misinformation – a chief focus of his work, as discussed in a profile this week in The Washington Post. His efforts, which include a toolkit on Protecting Youth Mental Health, include helping to understand how COVID-19 has impacted mental health. While the pandemic has increased rates of psychological distress – especially for marginalized communities – it has also been an impetus for action.

In our alliance discussion last week, Patroski J. Lawson, CEO of KPM Group DC, and his colleague Katie Landes discussed their work in mental health advocacy and the importance of equal access to mental health care services. We invite you to read highlights of the thoughtful discussion and watch the conversation.

A related program well worth tuning into features Research!America Board member Arthur Evans Jr., PhD, CEO of the American Psychological Association. Register to join a July 14, 1:30 p.m. ET, congressional briefing and discussion on the recent report, “Pain in the Nation: The Epidemics of Alcohol, Drug, and Suicide Deaths.”

ARPA-H Alliance Discussion: Yesterday, Lauren Bloch, Director of Health Policy & Regulatory Affairs at Faegre Drinker, joined us for a conversation on ARPA-H legislation in Congress and actions by the Administration to advance this new health innovation incubator. Watch the discussion.

Congratulations!: This week, our own Sophia Kaska, PhD, Manager of Science Initiatives and Outreach at Research!America, was announced as an officer of the Board of Directors of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB), where she will represent early career professionals.

Stay well, stay safe, and stay connected.

Mary Woolley