Home » Mary Woolley's Weekly Letter » Seizing Opportunity

Seizing Opportunity

Dear Research Advocate,

An article in Science last week carried the worrisome headline, “China rises to first place in most cited papers.” While there is long-standing disagreement as to how research rankings are compiled and what they mean, the study cited and resulting headline are part of a broader trend. Bottom line, there is no denying China’s determination to become the global leader in science, and it has made massive gains in the 21st century.

Celebrating the enactment of the CHIPS and Science Act is not enough: the Act is a blueprint – Congress must still fund much of it, so as to make the promised and necessary investments a reality…

On The Hill: …which brings us to the urgency for Congress to make FY23 appropriations happen ASAP. Congress is in the unfortunate habit of using continuing resolutions (CRs) to punt the federal budget past the annual Sept. 30 deadline, but that should not be inevitable. The global race for S&T leadership is a marathon, not a sprint. In that race, CRs are the equivalent of stopping on the side of the road and watching other runners pass you by. Think China in particular.

We hope your organization will consider joining our sign-on letter encouraging appropriators to swiftly finish FY23 negotiations and reaffirm their investment in lifesaving medical progress by providing robust funding for our federal research agencies. Read our letter and sign on today!

Straight Talk: Our upcoming National Health Research Forum, September 19 and 20, has a fantastic lineup of speakers, including these agency leaders responsible for stewarding a significant portion of federal research and its application:

  • Sethuraman Panchanathan, PhD, Director, NSF
  • Lawrence A. Tabak, DDS, PhD, Acting Director, NIH
  • Robert Califf, MD, Commissioner, FDA
  • Robert Otto Valdez, PhD, MHSA, Director, AHRQ
  • Ashish Jha, MD, MPH, White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator
  • Marie Bernard, MD, Chief Officer for Scientific Workforce Diversity, NIH

Take a look at the agenda to see other terrific confirmed speakers addressing in-the-moment topics. The Forum is free and open to all – be sure to register now to stay informed about the sessions most important to your work.

Please spread the word to your colleagues and through your networks, including by sharing posts on TwitterLinkedIn, and Facebook.

Transition & Opportunity: Dr. Tony Fauci’s departure announcement has been widely covered, as befits a unique public figure who has led the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for 38 years under seven presidents. A survey we commissioned in January showed Dr. Fauci is by far the most well-known scientist in the country; 50% of respondents who could name a living scientist named Dr. Fauci. His NIAID role will be one more high-level leadership position (along with the heads of NIH and ARPA-H) we expect to be filled soon.

Bloomberg Law article highlights the opportunities presented by the current period of transition at NIH. I’m among those quoted. Said Sudip Parikh, PhD, CEO of AAAS and a Research!America Board member: “’We [have] benefited greatly from this generation’s work… We’re going to benefit from a generational change as well, which will bring women, people from different backgrounds, and from other parts of the country, into leadership positions… What we don’t want is for the transition period to last too long.’”

Solving Long COVID: A Brookings assessment of long COVID-19 and its economic impact incorporates recent Census Bureau data to highlight the urgency of addressing this condition. The data show 16.3 million working-age adults have long COVID and an estimated 2 to 4 million Americans are out of work due to long COVID, creating an economic burden of ~$200 billion a year and climbing.

Our alliance member Solve M.E. has launched a national public service announcement (PSA) campaign, “How Long?,” focused on solving long COVID. Watch and share the PSA, and check out the initiative’s other resources.

Upcoming Alliance Discussion: Join us on Monday, August 29, at 11 a.m. ET for a discussion with John Balbus, MD, MPH, Interim Director of the newly-formed Office of Climate Change and Health Equity, HHS. We’ll discuss the role the research community can and should play in climate change and how climate change impacts health equity. We will have time for your questions.

ICYMI: On Tuesday, we had an enlightening alliance members-only conversation with Garrett Devenney, Health Policy Advisor for the Senate HELP Committee majority. He discussed pandemic preparedness legislation, R&D competitiveness, and other priorities of Chair Patty Murray (D-WA). If you are interested in joining off-the-record conversations, contact Joel Nepomuceno to discuss how your organization can become a member.

Stay well, stay safe, stay cool, and stay connected.