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Science Without Walls

Last week at the AAAS annual meeting in Denver, AAAS President and Research!America Board Member Dr. Keith Yamamoto delivered a compelling opening plenary. In his address, he highlighted the meeting theme, “Toward Science Without Walls,” by discussing the various ‘transparent’ walls – transparent because we don’t even see them anymore – that hold back the nation’s STEM enterprise. Here is a recap prepared by AAAS.

One of the walls Keith discussed is that between science and the rest of society. Scientists, he asserted, must “… listen respectfully and gain wisdom from the public, to understand the public context in which we work, and to secure crucial public feedback and advice.” Our January survey found that 82% of Americans believe scientists should consider it part of their job to inform the public about their research and its impact on society. With the knowledge that public support requires public engagement, Research!America is working with partners on a number of initiatives to break down the wall that makes science, scientists, and scientific institutions invisible and mysterious to too many Americans. Our civic engagement microgrant program is just one example of a path forward. 

Also heard in Denver: Gov. Jared Polis described Colorado as a “science-forward” state. We should challenge every Governor to assure the same! 

On The Hill: With only a week until March 1 – the first of two funding deadlines and, if missed, a partial government shutdown – appropriators continue to work toward final FY24 appropriations legislation. With the House in recess until next Wednesday, Feb. 28, the next week promises to be an interesting one on the appropriations front. Watch this space for updates as the situation continues to unfold.

Today’s member-only alliance discussion featured Emily Holubowich, National Senior Vice President of Federal Advocacy with the American Heart Association, who described the current budget morass on Capitol Hill. She reminded us that while the upcoming budget deadlines are top of mind, advocating for funding for FY25 is at hand as well. “As advocates, we really need to be thinking about 2025,” she said. Her blunt reminder that “constituent voices do matter,” served notice that we must continue to be vigilant in pursuing funding for medical and health research.

On March 7, at noon ET, Erik Fatemi, Principal at Cornerstone Government Affairs, will continue our budget discussion and decode developments in the simultaneously moving (sort of) FY24 and FY25 appropriations process and share any updates on Bayh-Dole. This is also a member-only discussion so if you are a Research!America alliance member, please email Jacqueline Lagoy for the registration link.

SOTU: President Biden will deliver the State of the Union Address (SOTU) to Congress and the nation on March 7. Have you weighed in with a request for an emphasis on research, stressing the value of research to the nation and every one of us as individuals? History and aspiration tell us that investing in science and technology (S&T) leads to better health, economic prosperity, enhanced global competitiveness, and national security. It’s time for a recommitment to the future, especially given this chilling finding from the State of Science in America report: 70% of Americans say children today will grow up worse off. S&T can and will, if given a chance, turn that sentiment on its head! Send a message to the White House today asking the President to emphasize S&T in the SOTU.   

New Clinical Trials Network: NIH has launched the Cancer Screening Research Network, aimed at assessing emerging technologies for the early detection of cancer. This network is set to explore methods to identify cancers at an earlier stage, potentially making them more manageable through treatment. The launch of the network is encouraging in the fight against cancer, but we can and should do more. 

Advocates like you know that to defeat diseases like cancer, our research agencies need sustained funding. Share this week’s #CuresNotCuts graphic on LinkedIn or X to make the case as we work to combat cancer in all forms.

Better Health for All of Us: How can diverse data inform thousands of research studies on a variety of health conditions? On Feb. 29, at 2 p.m. ET, Josh Denny, CEO of the All of Us Research Program at NIH, will join us to discuss the Institute’s historic effort to collect and utilize data from over 1 million people living in the U.S., to create better health for all of us through precision medicine. Register for this conversation.

Join Us for a Night of Inspiration: On March 13, from 4 to 7 p.m. ET, join us at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C. for our annual Advocacy Awards to celebrate remarkable individuals and organizations for their outstanding efforts in advancing medical and health research, as well as science writ large. This event, as it has for the past 27 years, will be sure to inspire continued advocacy. Register now.