Dear Research Advocate,

I’ve thought long and hard about how to begin this letter. Our nation and the global community are still fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, the economy continues to send anxiety-fueling mixed signals, turmoil seems to be the order of the day in Congress, and the list goes on… It can be difficult to snatch optimism from the jaws of incredulity, uncertainty, and anxiety.

Still, I do feel optimism, and that has a lot to do with you. I know, from partnering with you over the course of the 34 years since Research!America’s founding (our birthday was yesterday), that partnership in advocacy has the power to bring about positive change. As we take a quick look at the accomplishments our joint efforts contributed to in 2022, let me take this opportunity to applaud and thank you for your efforts and your partnership.  

On to those accomplishments:

  • Across-the-board funding increases for federal research agencies (see chart), including a $2.5 billion increase for the National Institutes of Health.
  • Reauthorization of “user fees,” enabling the FDA to approve critical new drugs and devices for patients, and of small business research grants to build out U.S. R&D capacity.
  • Passage of the historic CHIPS and Science Act and key provisions of the PREVENT Pandemics Act.

Check out a more in-depth look at 2022 accomplishments from Research!America and our alliance members. 

On the Hill: The 118th Congress is underway and so far, so rocky! Despite nine votes (and counting) having already taken place, the House of Representatives still does not have a Speaker and it is unclear who can make a successful bid for the role. Regular legislative business, including committee appointments, cannot commence until a Speaker of the House has been appointed.

One fresh resource to help engage our newest potential congressional champions: a list of all the freshman members of the 118th Congress, along with a breakdown of the NIH and NSF funding for their states and districts. This data alone is a powerful reason for these new members of Congress to care about federal research agencies!  

Partnership, Not Partisanship: In an interview in the Winter 2023 Issues in Science and Technology, just-retired Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) shares timely insights on the importance of working together from her more than 50 years of public service – including as outgoing chair of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology:

“I tried to focus on the science, on solutions, and on progress. I try to give the respect to the other members that I want to get from them.… We need all your thinking. We cannot decide one side knows it all. We’ve got to use our knowledge and try to come up with the best solutions. We owe that to our nation and to the world. As a leading nation on science, we cannot do anything less.”

Partnership and Progress: The most recent NIH Director’s Blog starts the new year off right with a compelling review of breakthroughs in 2022, across sectors and across the sciences. From the Webb telescope to the strongest evidence to date pointing to a viral origin for multiple sclerosis (MS), to significant progress on a safe and effective vaccine for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), public and private sector investment and partnership bore fruit in 2022.

Brain Health Affects Everyone: On Wednesday, in partnership with the Dana Foundation, we released an Executive Overview of findings from our recently commissioned survey of Americans’ views on brain health and how it affects their lives, as well as their views on brain health research.

The results discussed in the report show Americans are optimistic about brain health research, believe it’s beneficial, and have a strong interest in having a voice in setting research priorities. They also feel cautious about the consequences of research participation.

Every year, Research!America commissions public opinion surveys to understand public support for medical, health, and scientific research (if you’d like to partner on a survey, let us know!).

The Power of Partnership – Learning From COVID: We hope you will join us next Thursday, January 12, at 2:30 p.m. E.T. for a conversation with James E. Crowe Jr., MD, Director of the Vaccine Center at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and recipient of Research!America’s 2023 Building the Foundation Award, one of the Outstanding Achievement in Public Health Awards, generously supported by Johnson & Johnson. Dr. Crowe, who led a team at Vanderbilt that played a pivotal role in the development of COVID countermeasures, will discuss the extraordinary progress that can be made when the public sector, the private sector, and academia join forces against deadly and debilitating health threats.