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The Heart of the Matter

Valentine’s Day 2024 is behind us – Americans spent an estimated $26 billion celebrating this holiday, enough to fund the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) for six years. That’s not to say this holiday is not worth the money spent, but it shows the country can afford to spend more on research. February is American Heart Month. Thanks to research and resulting evidence-based prevention and treatments, there has been a 70% reduction in cardiovascular disease and stroke mortality since the 1960s. Yet, we still have a ways to go, as cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of death in the U.S. As we see with other health conditions, myths and misinformation about heart disease persist.

The Dangers of Misinformation: Bill Novelli, MBA, former AARP CEO and an emeritus Research!America Board member, has penned a timely commentary in Fortune magazine on the dangers of misinformation in public health, climate change, and democracy. Our recently-released survey finds that more than 90% of adults are concerned about the impact of misinformation/disinformation on public health, 81% concerned about its impact on addressing climate change, and 87% concerned about its impact on maintaining a stable democracy.  

Novelli calls attention to the important work being undertaken by the Coalition for Trust in Health and Science to combat misinformation. (We’re proud to be co-founders and strong supporters of the Coalition, which is open to all.) Novelli also highlights the waning public confidence in science. Our survey shows that while confidence in health care providers and scientists is high relative to other professions, Americans are increasingly divided by party when it comes to confidence in scientists. 

On The Hill: Although the same survey (and many others) shows confidence in elected officials is very low, they make the decisions on how taxpayer money will be spent. That’s why advocates for research can’t risk sitting on the sidelines. The expiration of FY24 continuing resolutions (CRs) are upon us. By the March 1 deadline (for some agencies; March 8 for others), we will be five months into FY24 with no final budget decisions in place; the impact of CRs on health and scientific research funding is already profound and will deepen. Please let Members of Congress know that our federal research agencies require sustained funding to train new scientists, invigorate lifesaving research, and find the solutions to what ails us.   

This week’s #CuresNotCuts graphic focuses on heart disease as the leading cause of death across gender, race, and ethnicity for Americans. Make sure to share this graphic, and our other #CuresNotCuts resources, to amplify the message that more research is needed to combat this deadly threat.

And for more on appropriations, don’t miss our upcoming member-only alliance discussion with Emily Holubowich, National Senior Vice President of Federal Advocacy,  American Heart Association, on Feb. 22, at 1 p.m. ET. Emily will provide an update on the ever-more confusing FY24 appropriations landscape and preview FY25. If your organization is a Research!America member, check your inbox for registration details or reach out to Jacqueline Lagoy.

Honoring Research Champions: To round out our suite of 2024 Advocacy Award honorees, we recently announced that U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Bill Cassidy, MD, (R-LA) will receive the Edwin C. Whitehead Award for Medical Research Advocacy for their extraordinary contributions to strengthening our nation’s research enterprise and advancing medical progress. Their advocacy has led to many wins for medical research, including having successfully advocated for increased federal funding to combat heart disease.   

In addition, former Delaware Governor and U.S. Rep. Mike Castle will receive the John Edward Porter Legacy Award for his longstanding commitment to sustaining the nation’s world-class leadership in medical and health research. Rep. Castle, a staunch advocate in his own right, has been a champion for research on many life-threatening conditions, including heart disease. Senators Murrary and Cassidy and Rep. Castle will be honored at this year’s Advocacy Awards on March 13 for their contributions to advancing research for our nation and the global community.

Register to join us for this special night as we honor individuals and organizations whose leadership has advanced our nation’s commitment to medical, health, and scientific research.

The Heart of Medicine: Speaking of Advocacy Award honorees, did you tune in to our alliance discussion with Dr. Abraham Verghese? This bestselling author, who is the Linda R. Meier and Joan F. Lane Provostial Professor and Vice Chair of the Department of Medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine, is the 2024 recipient of Research!America’s Isadore Rosenfeld Award for Impact on Public Opinion. In our conversation, he shared a powerful message of the need to keep patients at the heart of translational medical research. In his words: “The essence of a human being ill is a very personal thing and each person responds in a unique way… It doesn’t really matter what disease the patient has, it matters what patient has the disease.” Much like Dr. Rosenfeld before him, Dr. Verghese has garnered public trust through his actions, work, and art. Please take a moment to listen to our short but powerful conversation.