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Meeting the Moment

Dear Research Advocate,

Dr. Monica Bertagnolli assumed her position as the 17th Director of the NIH on Nov. 9th. In honor of her appointment, Research!America, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, and other partners will host a welcome reception on Jan. 31, at 6 p.m. ET. The reception will take place in the Kennedy Caucus Room in 325 Russell Senate Office Building. 

Research!America wholeheartedly supported Dr. Bertagnolli’s appointment and subsequent confirmation by the Senate. As I said in making the case for her confirmation, she is the right leader to meet the moment to help ensure NIH’s unique role in driving research for the benefit of all, including as a global leader in research for health. View the invitation and register now for the reception. Space is limited. I hope to see you there! 

On The Hill: Appropriators continue to work on finalizing funding levels in FY24 appropriations legislation – we are now four months behind schedule and still don’t have appropriations subcommittee allocations. (As a refresher on the appropriations process, check out this quick primer, with thanks to the Coalition for Health Funding.)

It’s essential that Congress act to amplify the ability of research and innovation to address the serious health threats our nation is facing, including the opioid crisis. I was stunned to learn there were more than 80,000 opioid-related deaths in 2021 (the most recent data available) compared to an alarming 21,000 in 2010, – a nearly four-fold increase! Share this week’s #CuresNotCuts graphic on LinkedIn and X (formerly known as Twitter) to remind Members of Congress of the importance of funding critical research in FY24.

Sustaining Our Nation’s S&T Innovation: On Monday, we hosted Dr. John Hamre, President and CEO at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and former U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense, and Paul Kim, a veteran of Capitol Hill and expert on health policy. They addressed a proposed federal policy change that risks setting our nation back to a time before bipartisan passage of the Bayh-Dole Act when federally funded research often sat on the shelf instead of being brought to market. The proposed change, known as the draft framework on considering march-in rights, would place NIH, NSF, NIST, DOE, DOD, and other federal research agencies in the position of evaluating the market price of products, and potentially rescinding technology transfer agreements for those products deemed to be too expensive.

John eloquently argued that Bayh-Dole is a key tool supporting our nation’s innovation economy. He described the risks of undercutting the law: “Anything that deteriorates the innovation culture in America is a direct threat to our national security.”

I hope you’ll take time to watch (or re-watch) the conversation with John and Paul  and review Paul’s terrific presentation.

What you can do: The Department of Commerce has requested feedback on the draft framework through a “Request for Information (RFI).” Despite numerous requests from stakeholders for an extension in the comment period, it appears the comment period  will end on Tuesday, Feb. 6th. Please consider submitting comments in opposition to this change. Following are links to two resources:

  1. A template, which we hope will prove useful for organizations interested in submitting comments in response to the RFI (Again, please do submit comments!)
  2. A “Frequently Asked Questions” on the Bayh-Dole Act, technology transfer, and the framework.

Make the Case for NIAID: Last week, I mentioned the House’s proposed 23% reduction (you read that right, 23%) in the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases’ (NIAID) FY24 budget. This reduction would have devastating effects on progress made in addressing debilitating health threats like HIV, RSV, Valley fever, and many other diseases that jeopardize the health of our nation. Please consider having your organization endorse this community letter that highlights the crucial role of NIAID in protecting the U.S. against infectious and chronic diseases, and express your support by signing on. The deadline for signing is tomorrow.

Meeting the Moment: Have lunch plans on Tuesday, Jan. 30, at 12:30 p.m. ET? Consider joining us for an alliance discussion featuring Dr. Celine Gounder, Senior Fellow and Editor-at-Large for Public Health at KFF Health News, and CBS News Medical Contributor. Dr. Gounder will share insights on how we can meet the moment when tackling large-scale health threats, from measles to COVID-19, and speed the pace of medical progress. Dr. Gounder is the recipient of Research!America’s 2024 Meeting the Moment for Public Health Award

Don’t forget to mark your calendars for our 2024 Advocacy Awards on March 13, where we will be honoring Dr. Gounder and our other distinguished 2024 honorees.