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With Research, There is Hope

Dear Research Advocate,

“Without research, there is no hope.” – inspirational wisdom shared decades ago by beloved Congressman and past Research!America Chair Paul Rogers (1921-2008), known as “Mr. Health.” This week, as we face the specter of more mass shootings, I hold fast to his reminder and its corollary: With research, there is hope – even of achieving the complex, but critical, objective of gun safety.

Gun violence kills over 40,000 people in America each year and is the leading cause of death of children over the age of 1. However, gun violence receives a fraction of the research funding allocated to other public health challenges causing similar numbers of deaths.

I encourage you to read a statement from Research!America Board member Victor Dzau, MD, president of the National Academy of Medicine: “Firearm violence is a public health crisis… We must find the courage — and the creativity — to stop it… We need to develop scientific evidence to support policy decisions and speak up to advance evidence-based interventions.”

A promising sign: A group of eight Senators from both parties has met several times this week to discuss the possibility of bipartisan gun safety legislation. We will keep you apprised as these delicate, but crucial, negotiations continue.

Funding for Gun Violence Research: We have been among the many organizations to support federal funding for gun violence research for years now. We were heartened to see the recent bipartisan-supported FY22 Omnibus Appropriations Bill allocate $25 million to NIH and CDC for firearm injury and mortality prevention research. It is a small but meaningful down payment on the investment needed to produce evidence-based solutions.

Also on the Hill: It is essential we not lose sight of another pressing public health threat: the need for supplemental funding for vaccines and treatments to combat the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. It appears congressional interest in supplemental funding may be waning, which heightens the need for advocacy. The implications of evolving research on the prevalence and impact of long COVID are concerning enough on their own to justify further investment.

Please use this editable tweet to urge congressional leaders to move quickly to enact this funding.

On User Fee Legislation: Next week, the full House is likely to take up H.R. 7667, Food and Drug Amendments of 2022, while the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee is scheduled to mark up S. 4348, Food and Drug Administration Safety and Landmark Advancements (FDASLA) Act of 2022. These bills encompass reauthorization of user fee programs for prescription drugs (PDUFA), medical devices (MDUFA), and other medical advances. (User fees have been instrumental in responsibly speeding FDA review of these advances.) The deadline for enactment of a final bill is September 30, so both chambers are progressing toward that goal.

Upcoming Alliance Discussion: Join us on Monday, June 6, at 2 p.m. ET to hear from Alex Keenan, Democratic Staff Director of the Senate Appropriations Labor, HHS, and Education Subcommittee (Labor-H), for an update on where we are in the FY23 appropriations process. The Labor-H Subcommittee allocates funding for such critical health research agencies as NIH, CDC, and AHRQ; we hope you can join this important discussion.

Kavli Prizes Announced: Yesterday, the 2022 Kavli Prizes were announced, to be awarded to scientists in September, for breakthroughs in astrophysics, nanoscience, and neuroscience. We congratulate all the Laureates for their achievements, with our particular congratulations to the four neuroscience laureates – Jean-Louis Mandel, Harry T. Orr, Christopher A. Walsh, and Huda Y. Zoghbi – who discovered the genetic basis of a host of brain disorders.

Nominate Advocacy Leaders: Speaking of awards for outstanding and innovative leaders, nominations are now open for Research!America’s 2023 Advocacy Awards! The awards recognize individuals and organizations whose commitment to advocacy for research and innovation has advanced medical and public health progress in profoundly important ways. The deadline for nominations is Thursday, June 30.

Stay well, stay safe, and stay connected.

Mary Woolley