Home » Mary Woolley's Weekly Letter » The Countdown is On

The Countdown is On

Our late board chair, esteemed congressman John Porter, cited his father’s polio as the genesis of his lifelong commitment to elevating the priority of research. Concerns regarding the widely reported re-emergence of polio in New York state are heightened by alarming vaccination gaps. 

While COVID-associated delays in health care may explain part of this phenomenon, vaccine hesitancy appears to be a significant factor. Please lend your perspective on building (and rebuilding) trust in science and the advances that arise from it during our virtual National Health Research Forum next week. Register now.

On the Hill – Bipartisan Accomplishments in Peril: Three pending legislative challenges grounded in bipartisanship and bearing on the reach, impact, and pace of medical progress remain just that – pending. Congress has yet to:

  • Complete FY23 Appropriations: Tomorrow is the deadline to sign-on to a letter Research!America is circulating urging Congressional leaders to complete action on FY23 appropriations before the end of the budget cycle on September 30. Join the more than 100 organizations making the case for updating the federal budget to reflect bipartisan priorities and objectives like ending cancer as we know it

As Congressman Tom Cole (R-OK) remarked yesterday at an ACT for NIH event, no one has ever come up to him at a town hall or other program in his district to complain that we are spending too much money to find the cure for cancer, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, rare diseases, and the list goes on.

  • Reauthorize FDA User Fees: Today we sent a letter to federal leaders urging reauthorization of the FDA User Fee programs, another bipartisan mainstay. These decades-old programs will end if not reauthorized by September 30, compromising rigorous, time- and cost-efficient review of medical advances. Tweet your support for congressional action!

  • Reauthorize SBIR/STTR: The SBIR and STTR programs provide seed funding that boosts the ability of small businesses to engage in progress- and job-fueling R&D. This is yet another at-risk bipartisan accomplishment. Write your members of Congress and urge them to act.

Big News for ARPA-H: President Biden has announced that Renee Wegrzyn, PhD, will serve as the inaugural Director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H). This is an important development in the trajectory of the newest “ARPA,” based on DARPA, a tried and true model for accelerating high-risk, high reward research and innovation. (Read our statement).

Forum, Forum, Forum: It’s almost here! Our annual National Health Research Forum virtual event is Monday and Tuesday, September 19 and 20. Check out the full agenda and register now to join us for the sessions that fit your interests and schedule. There is no cost to attend: your participation, comments, and questions will undoubtedly lend impact!

We are look forward to hearing from the many federal officials joining this year’s Forum:

  • The Honorable Shelley Moore Capito, United States Senator (R-WV)
  • Sethuraman Panchanathan, PhD, Director, NSF
  • Lawrence A. Tabak, DDS, PhD, Performing the Duties of the Director of NIH
  • Robert Califf, MD, Commissioner, FDA
  • Robert Otto Valdez, PhD, MHSA, Director, AHRQ
  • Admiral Rachel L. Levine, MD, Assistant Secretary for Health, HHS
  • Vice Admiral Vivek H. Murthy, MD, MBA U.S. Surgeon General, HHS
  • Ashish Jha, MD, MPH, White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator
  • Demetre Daskalakis, MD, MPH, National Monkeypox Response Deputy Coordinator, White House
  • Peter Marks, MD, PhD, Director, Center for Biologics Evaluation & Research, FDA
  • Janine Austin Clayton, MD, FARVO, NIH Associate Director for Research on Women’s Health; Director, NIH Office of Research on Women’s Health
  • Marie Bernard, MD, Chief Officer for Scientific Workforce Diversity, NIH
  • Michael Craig, MPP, Director, Antimicrobial Resistance Coordination and Strategy Unit, CDC

Forum Session Highlight: It’s Duchenne Awareness Month, and one of the Forum sessions I guarantee you’ll remember for years to come features Pat Furlong, President and CEO of Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy. Pat will join us on the first day of the Forum, this coming Monday at 12:45 p.m. ET, to share why she fights for medical progress. I know Pat, I know her searing, perspective-changing story, and I am glad that after the Forum, you will too.

ICYMI: “Perspective-changing” is also an apt description of two alliance discussions we held this week:

  • Stephen Morrison, PhD, shed light on the historical context for U.S. global health policy and funding, and outlined the arguments for and crosswinds jeopardizing future U.S. engagement. Whether you focus on global health and global health R&D or not, this conversation provides a glimpse at the complexity of factors shaping federal decision-making. Watch the recording.
  • September is National Suicide Prevention Month. Robert Gebbia, CEO of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) joined us for a conversation that drives home just how prevalent, indiscriminately destructive, and in need of solutions this threat remains. Watch the recording.

Stay well, stay safe, and stay connected.