The national priorities of President-elect Donald Trump will likely have a direct bearing on the future of the research enterprise. Will major initiatives such as the cancer moonshot continue to advance? Will the new Administration support tax policies that encourage research in the private sector? Research!America convened an esteemed panel of policymakers and scientists for the 2016 Post-Election Briefing on November 15 to discuss expectations for science and medical progress with a new president and the next Congress. The briefing was hosted by the American Association for the Advancement of Science and supported in part by Zogby Analytics. Lori Stokes, co-anchor, WABC-TV Eyewitness News and daughter of the late Ohio Congressman Louis Stokes, moderated the panel.
John Zogby, founder and senior partner of John Zogby Strategies and internationally respected pollster, said it’s too soon to tell what a Trump Administration will mean for medical and health research but individuals agree that research is vital to our nation. President and CEO of Research!America Mary Woolley said that in spite of the political divides in this past election, there’s one thing that Americans all agree on, “they want research, science and innovation to succeed rather than fail, and the sooner the better.”
A major challenge faced by the President-elect will be attracting top talent to federal science agencies, said The Hon. Louis Sullivan, M.D., former Secretary of Health and Human Services , especially given how interdependent agencies are—what happens in one department can affect many others.
Rush Holt, Ph.D., CEO, American Association for the Advancement of Science, said that in thinking about the new Administration, there are more questions than answers, and the answers are dependent on more than just funding. “Will government-funded researchers be free to speak up? Will the Administration enthusiastically take part in international programs to advance science and research? Will there be a reverence for evidence in all policymaking through the Administration?” Holt asked.
The Cancer Moonshot’s future is uncertain under the new Administration, said The Honorable Mike Castle, Research!America Vice Chair, former U.S. Representative, adding that he hopes the President-elect will engage Vice President Biden and bring others into the initiative as well to continue the momentum.”
The Honorable John Edward Porter, Research!America Board Chair, former U.S. Representative, predicted that funding for the National Institutes of Health will fare well in a Republican-controlled Congress. Many champions for medical research have been re-elected, and are on the congressional committees that handle appropriations for a number of science agencies, including NIH.
The panelists emphasized that it’s important for advocates to speak out now more than ever. Porter urged scientists to meet with their representatives “and tell them what you do and why it makes a difference.” Often policymakers don’t have that information, he said, and if they knew it, they’d act on it.