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The Incredible, Incomparable ROI of R&D

With discussions ongoing between Congress and the President over raising the limit on the nation’s debt, the threat to high priority health and scientific research and other federal programs is very much present – as is the need for advocacy to protect it!

We are starting this week’s letter with an urgent reminder: there is still time to sign your organization on to NDD United’s letter calling on Congress to reject cuts to non-defense discretionary appropriations. We hope you’ll also share this opportunity with your networks on Twitter.

The ROI of R&D: The value of federal investments in R&D is illustrated vividly in a new report released by the Science & Technology Action Committee (STAC) on “The Incredible, Incomparable ROI of R&D.” The report is essential – both to read and to share. It succinctly describes the urgency of the present moment: today, the U.S. government spends an amount equal to only 0.7% of the nation’s GDP on R&D, down from 1.9% in the 1960s – an era that drove decades of scientific progress and prosperity, and made the U.S. the unrivaled world leader in R&D for half a century. Because this isn’t a distant risk – we have already fallen to second place behind China on several key metrics of R&D success, and we continue to squander our overall lead with every day we fail to protect and accelerate investment in our future.

The report highlights that science and technology is a bipartisan priority that should not be sidetracked by politics. Join us in ensuring that Congress hears the message that we want America to prosper, thrive, and remain a world leader in R&D investment – and keep sending that message as many times as it takes!

A New Resource: This week, we released a fact sheet on A Quick Look at Digital Health,” serving as an explainer on the core challenges and opportunities of digital health. It describes a wide range of resources essential to understanding this rapidly evolving field. 

Addressing Loneliness: In his new advisory, “Our Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation,” Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, MD, tells his personal story to illustrate the vital importance of human connection. Go to page 54 for bulleted action items for various groups (including researchers, schools, workplaces, community-based organizations, tech companies, individuals, and more).

When Dr. Murthy spoke at our National Health Research Forum last fall, one of the issues he discussed was improving youth mental health. His challenge to us then applies equally to the issue of loneliness: “Progress has always been born in the wake of tragedy. Now, we can seize this moment to lay the foundation for a healthier society if and only if we’re willing to step up.” (Read his full remarks or watch the video.)

Cast Your Vote for Health Transformation: The final round of voting ends at midnight tomorrow, May 12, for the ARPA-H Dash to Accelerate Health Outcomes competition. Voters can choose which health transformation idea they think will make the biggest impact over the next 20 years. Winners will be announced on May 16.

Discovery, Development, Delivery: Join us on Capitol Hill in the Dirksen Senate Building for an in-person lunch briefing highlighting the biomedical R&D pipeline, to be held on Monday, May 22, from 11:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. ET. A panel of speakers will explore the “process behind progress” in the fight against lupus and other high cost, high burden diseases, including the path to innovation through both the public and private sectors and the need for patient involvement in driving medical progress. RSVP to Trent Carlson; space is limited.

Upcoming Alliance Discussion: Join us on Wednesday, May 17, at noon ET when we welcome Steven Grossman, Executive Director of Alliance for a Stronger FDA, to discuss all things FDA, including recent developments on FDA’s role in the R&D ecosystem and prospects for its FY24 budget.

ICYMI: Earlier today, we talked with Gary Gibbons, MD, Director of the NIH National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, about the path to progress against sickle cell disease. If you missed this discussion, you can watch the recording.

On Tuesday, we heard from Sara Maskornick, Democratic Staff Director of the Senate HELP Committee’s Children & Families Subcommittee. During a members-only conversation, Sara updated us on efforts to reauthorize the landmark Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act (PAHPA), including what issues could be considered as well as prospects for legislative action on the reauthorization. If your organization is not a member, contact Joel to explore joining our alliance.

I Want to Hear From You: Many thanks to those of you who have taken a moment to give me feedback on this letter. It’s incredibly valuable to learn from you – what you want to hear more/less about, what I may have got wrong (it happens!), where I missed a nuance, or who you would like to hear from on a future alliance discussion! Please be in touch – my colleagues and I are always eager to engage.