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Time to Engage

The House Appropriations Labor-HHS Subcommittee has marked up the FY25 Labor, HHS, Education, and related agencies spending bill. (The full committee is scheduled to mark up the bill on July 10). The bill funds the NIH at last year’s level which, given the unreasonably low funding levels established for all non-defense discretionary spending in the 2023 debt ceiling agreement, could be considered a victory. But is it – in light of the progress Americans want and society needs? The bill proposes to cut ARPA-H by $1 billion and the CDC by roughly $1.8 billion, and it would eliminate funding for AHRQ. The legislation also incorporates major structural changes to NIH and ARPA-H, reflecting proposed changes House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) released earlier this month with a request for stakeholder input. Our statement today seeks to pull these threads together.

One bright spot in the legislation is a proposed increase of more than 8% ($85 million) for Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA). 

Remember, this bill is a first draft and will be subject to lengthy negotiations before any funding levels or reorganization proposals are finalized. Your voice matters and will make a difference. That doesn’t mean ‘let’s wait and see.’ Now is the time to engage. Urge your members of Congress to fund medical research, support public health, and prioritize the R&D ecosystem by using our editable action alert. 

Alliance Members-only NIH Framework Meeting #2: On Monday we held an off-the-record alliance members-only meeting to discuss the proposed framework referenced above. We are holding a second alliance members-only meeting (again, off-the-record) on the proposed framework, this one taking place on Monday, July 8, noon to 1:00 pm ET, and featuring Grace Graham and Molly (Brimmer) Lolli with the Majority staff of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. If you are with an alliance member organization (find a list of members here), look for an email inviting you to attend. If you are not with an alliance member organization and are interested in discussing membership, email Kristen Furlong for a quick chat about the benefits and process.  

More on the Hill: Yesterday’s House Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS) Appropriations Subcommittee markup of the FY25 CJS bill recommended a slight increase in funding for the NSF (from $9.09 billion to $9.26 billion). While that figure is certainly an improvement over the 8% cut in the NSF’s FY24 funding, it falls far below the levels authorized in the 2022 CHIPS and Science Act and the President’s budget request of $10.2 billion. Moreover, it fails to address challenges we face – while the U.S. cut funding for the nation’s leading science agency by 8% in FY24, China announced it was increasing its R&D spending by 10%.  

Cost and Access are Persistent Themes: On June 21, we released the full results of our first-ever survey on Americans’ views on health and nutrition that we commissioned with the American Heart Association. The findings illustrate the access and affordability challenges many Americans face in trying to eat a healthier diet. Not only did 46% of respondents cite cost as a barrier to eating healthy food, 72% cited food prices as a barrier to securing food for themselves and their families. And even more concerning, 21% of respondents say they or someone close to them experienced persistent hunger in the past year. How to turn so many disturbing indicators around? For one thing, put research to work – 75% of respondents believe the U.S. government should fund behavioral research to better help people address health threats such as obesity, hypertension, and diabetes. I encourage you to take a moment to explore the findings of this survey.

Dengue and Other Tropical Disease Threats: Earlier this year, record-breaking outbreaks of mosquito-borne dengue fever drew significant attention worldwide, including in the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico. Dengue and other tropical diseases are an increasing global and public health threat. On Tuesday, the CDC released a health alert on the increased risk of dengue infections in 2024. We recently published an op-ed on the need to better prepare for dengue outbreaks. We are hosting an alliance discussion on Tuesday, July 9, at 2 p.m. ET, to discuss this emerging threat. We will be joined by Dr. David Fitter, Director, Division of Global Migration Health; Dr. Monica Parise, Deputy Director for Science and Program, Division of Parasitic Diseases and Malaria; and Dr. Lyle Petersen, Director, Division of Vector-Borne Diseases, from the CDC National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases. Register here.

Participation in Clinical Trials: Encouraging broad and diverse participation in clinical trials is an essential step in assuring all Americans benefit from research findings. In addition to considerations ranging from time commitment to travel and other necessary accommodations trial volunteers must weigh, participation in these trials can be a financial burden. Clinical trial payments received by participants are taxable! If you’re like me, the case for such taxation is difficult to fathom. Our question is, can this impediment to clinical trial participation be removed? Please join us for an alliance discussion with Quinn Ritchie, Legislative Director to Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA) on July 11 at 1 p.m. ET, for a conversation on congressional efforts to address this financial burden and thus encourage participation in clinical trials and speed medical progress. Register now.

Clinical Trials Hill Briefing: Speaking of clinical trials, mark your calendar for Tuesday, July 30, for an in-person briefing on Capitol Hill, “Understanding the Power and Possibility of Clinical Trials,” to be held in the Rayburn House Office Building Room 2075 from noon to 1:30 p.m. Lunch will be available. Space is limited, so register soon.

Honoring a Research!America Supporter: I was deeply saddened this week to learn of the death of philanthropist Ann Lurie, who generously supported the John Edward Porter Legacy Award given every year by our board. In presenting the 2023 Legacy Award to Dr. Lawrence Tabak, she spoke eloquently about her dream of making scientists rock stars by illuminating their work. Ann was a renowned philanthropist whose tremendous support for medical and health research throughout the country has created a lasting legacy. We offer our heartfelt condolences to her family and friends.