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Saying Thank You — and Seeing Parallels

An attention-getting “Thank You” Twitter campaign is recognizing members of Congress on both sides of the aisle for their work in passing the once-in-a-generation CHIPS and Science Act. The campaign is led by the Science & Technology Action Committee (STAC). The first tranche of thank you posts are just waiting for you to retweet; more to come.

On the Hill: The expected enactment of a Continuing Resolution (CR) funding the government at FY22 levels through December 16 will avoid a government shut-down before the midnight deadline September 30, but not without cost. Every time a CR occurs (too often!), we remind you that “CRs stall progress,” anchoring funding to old priorities and preventing the government from responding to the needs of the moment.  

On the plus side, this CR includes a five-year reauthorization of the FDA user fee programs, essential for the FDA to continue its vital work ensuring the safety and efficacy of new medicines, devices and diagnostics. A round of applause for advocates — your ongoing messaging to Congress has been heard! (FDA Commissioner Robert Califf, MD, spoke at our National Health Research Forum last week, touching on this and other topics – if you missed it, you can read highlights or watch the video.)

Separate from the CR, the House passed legislation today reauthorizing the SBIR/STTR small business grant programs; the Senate passed the same legislation last week. This is great news for American S&T innovation. Like FDA user fees, this program would have expired on September 30 without Congressional action. The SBIR and STTR Extension Act of 2022 (S.4900) provides a 3-year continuation of the SBIR/STTR programs and includes new provisions intended to diversify the base of grantees and guard against undue foreign influence. 

Awards Season: This week, the Lasker Foundation announced the winners of the 2022 Lasker Awards. This year’s awardees are innovators whose contributions to basic and clinical research and public service are shaping the future of medical progress. Congratulations to all! 

(For those who, like me, are fascinated by the creative parallels between science and art, be sure to read this year’s edition of Nobel Laureate Joseph Goldstein’s annual Lasker Awards discussion on “The Art of Science.” Magritte, Chardin, and Richard Serra are featured.)

Speaking of Nobel Prizes, early in the morning on several days next week the 2022 Nobel Prizes will be announced. I urge you to take the opportunity to connect the dots for members of the public – the groundbreaking work of Nobel laureates is often rooted in taxpayer-funded research, which means we all have a stake in it, and all stand to benefit. Robust funding for NIH and other agencies is necessary to ensure a pipeline of research talent and discovery to drive progress and create societal benefit. 

Forum Highlights: We continue to hear enthusiastic feedback from those of you who tuned in to our 2022 National Health Research Forum. If you missed the thought-provoking content of the Forum, it’s not too late – you can easily access the sessions from our online Forum agenda.

Here are quotes from just a few to inspire you to explore more of the Forum content: 

  • “Health crises don’t wait their turn. They can descend on the same place and the same people at the same time. For example, we have seen how extreme weather – stoked by climate change — has added to the health threats of COVID-19.” – Admiral Rachel L. Levine, MD, Assistant Secretary for Health at HHS (watch)
  • “Reducing obesity in both adults and children… [requires] targeted research, and improving access to healthy food, exercise, and health care… It is essential that we focus on developing a comprehensive approach to treating obesity in West Virginia and across the nation.” – Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) (watch)
  • “This mRNA vaccine is a miracle. How exciting it is that people could come together and use new talents and new technologies to produce it, as opposed to ‘oh my god, they’re trying to do something pernicious in me to destroy me!’ We’ve got to get back to a sense of wonder and awe…” – Reed Tuckson, MD, FACP, Cofounder of Black Coalition Against COVID, former Board member of Research!America (watch)

ICYMI: Yesterday our alliance members heard from Daniel Pham, Cara Altimus, and Emily Baxi from the newly launched collective Breakthrough Discoveries for Thriving with Bipolar Disorder (BD²). The BD² team outlined their comprehensive approach and responded to a wealth of questions from a highly engaged audience. Watch the recording.

Be on the lookout for Information about upcoming alliance member calls.