Home » Mary Woolley's Weekly Letter » Will We Meet the Moment?

Will We Meet the Moment?

Dear Research Advocate,

When President Biden delivers his State of the Union address on Tuesday, March 1, he will be speaking to a nation grappling with serious challenges, from COVID-19, to rising inflation, to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Additional context for his remarks: Congress has yet to complete this year’s funding decisions, leaving federal departments and agencies handcuffed to last year’s budgets as they work to respond to today’s needs. It’s time to meet the moment.

We urge Congress to complete FY22 funding and the President to submit a FY23 budget that includes strong medical and health research funding. As our January survey revealed, 8 in 10 Americans across the political spectrum favor stronger support for medical research, including spending on basic research. In addition, two-thirds agree the federal government should invest in preventing and curing diseases wherever they occur.

In the words of Dr. Paul Farmer, a global health giant who died earlier this week, “The worst possible time to have nationalism or any kind of sectarian thinking is during a pandemic, which by definition is across national borders.”

On the Hill: Despite a FY23 budget request from the President on the horizon, Congress still hasn’t finished FY22 appropriations; we are already 146 days behind! The current continuing resolution funding the government at last year’s levels expires on March 11. Unfortunately, we are hearing reports that research funding levels under discussion are lower than needed – in fact dangerously inadequate given national imperatives. Please send this tweet to urge your Senators and Representative to complete the FY22 appropriations process and include robust funding for important federal medical and health research.   

Pandemic Preparedness: Pandemic preparedness is among FY22 funding priorities and it is critical to get it right. At the same time, new policies are needed to leverage and synthesize the lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic. Earlier today, we were honored to host staff members for Senate HELP Committee Chair Patty Murray (D-WA) and Ranking Member Richard Burr (R-NC) for a roundtable discussion on draft pandemic preparedness legislation developed by the Chair and Ranking Member. Alliance members asked questions and discussed priorities on this important discussion draft.

(Note: this conversation was available to alliance members only; if your organization is not a member, contact Anna Platt to learn about the benefits of membership and never miss another meeting like this one!)

The CDC’s National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases plays an essential role in addressing pandemics and other health crises. Its forward-looking Accomplishments 2021 Report highlights priorities for 2022 and beyond — antimicrobial resistance, advanced molecular detection, global health, disease outbreak response and preparedness, and more. This is an important read on these critical health threats.

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality: Another crucial funding priority is health services research, which enables us to improve quality of care and invest our health care dollars wisely.  On Tuesday, Robert “Bob” Otto Valdez, Ph.D., M.H.S.A., was named the new Director of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). Under Dr. Valdez’s leadership, and if Congress provides the resources AHRQ needs and merits, we believe AHRQ can and should play an even more meaningful role driving better health for all (read our statement).

Upcoming Special Discussion: Join us on Wednesday, March 2, at 1:15 p.m. ET for a discussion with France A. Córdova, PhD, President of the Science Philanthropy Alliance and 2022 Geoffrey Beene Foundation Builders of Science Award honoree. She will speak with us about her tenure as a university leader and as director of the National Science Foundation, the role of private philanthropy in research, and much more.  

This is part of our ongoing series of conversations with Research!America 2022 Advocacy Award honorees.

Just Announced: We are delighted to announce Representatives Rosa DeLauro (D-CT-03) and Kay Granger (R-TX-12) as the recipients of this year’s Edwin C. Whitehead Award for Medical Research Advocacy for their extraordinary contributions to strengthening our nation’s research capabilities and impact (read our statement).

We are also pleased to announce celebrated author and speaker Walter Isaacson as the recipient of the Isadore Rosenfeld Award for Impact on Public Opinion for his commitment to bringing public attention to revolutionary figures in science and technology. This award is presented annually to individuals who work to effectively deliver medical or other health-related research advocacy messages to the public (read our statement).

The Awards program will be held virtually at 4 p.m. ET on March 16 2022; registration is free and open to all. Please mark your calendar to join us in celebrating these remarkable leaders!

Stay well, stay safe, and stay connected. 

Mary Woolley