Home » Mary Woolley's Weekly Letter » The future is us

The future is us

Dear Research Advocate,

Happy New Year! As our blue marble makes another trip around the sun, a new year and a new decade call out for inspiration. Recent Nobelist and Johns Hopkins University professor Dr. Gregg Semenza has written about what he wishes everyone knew about science. The imperatives of basic research, collaboration, perseverance, mentorship — along with the contributions of young scientists — are valued dimensions of science we all can and should communicate widely in the new year. 

Speaking of young scientists, kudos to pharmacy doctoral student Camille Schrier, who was crowned Miss America 2020 last month. A graduate of Virginia Tech, Ms. Schrier brought her love of science to the talent portion of the competition with a chemistry experiment before three million-plus viewers. Ms. Schrier is determined to break stereotypes about women in science as she commences her travel around the country.

In our last letter of 2019, we celebrated the long-advocated completion of the federal budget for FY20, noting many important increases for research funding. You can read our statement here. Included in the CDC budget is much-needed funding to update our nation’s public health data infrastructure to help address new and emerging disease threats at the population level. “The diseases are moving faster than the data,” according to CDC’s Director of the Center for Surveillance, Epidemiology, and Laboratory Services, Michael Lademarco, MD, MPH. Thank you to the Association of Public Health Laboratories and its partners for leading this successful advocacy effort, which Research!America supported. If you haven’t already, please take the time to thank Appropriations Committee leaders for their commitment to public health and medical research. 

Of concern rather than inspiration is “Science Under Attack” from the New York Times, detailing instances across the federal government in which science has been scuttled and scientific expertise ignored. Also of concern is the extent to which health misinformation went viral last year, according to NBC News. Along with you, we will continue to advocate for the generation and use of science and scientifically sound evidence in 2020.

In partnership with the Lasker Foundation over the past year, we’ve updated 30 quick-read fact sheets on specific diseases and health conditions highlighting how research is working to deliver solutions.  At least 30 more will be produced in 2020. The most recent, on food allergies, underscores the need for more progress in order to help the estimated 32 million Americans with food allergies, 5.6 million of them children. Download our new Food Allergy Fact Sheet for more information on this high-burden health threat.

On behalf of the board and staff at Research!America, we wish you a healthy, happy new year. We look forward to working with you in 2020 to strengthen support for science in all sectors: science supported by taxpayers, research and innovation in the private sector and science funded by patient groups and philanthropy. All sectors are critical to success in assuring that discovery continues apace, and we prevent and defeat disease, sooner rather than later! If you missed our recently-released Investment Report, be sure to access it here.


Mary Woolley