An emergency public health fund would support rapid response efforts to eliminate major health threats like the Zika virus, according to speakers at Research!America’s 2016 National Health Forum, Thursday, September 8 at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. “We have a broken process that doesn’t allow us to respond to emergency situations,” said Anthony Fauci M.D., director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. An emergency fund, he said, would provide immediate resources for the development of a vaccine – resources that would not get tied up in the congressional appropriations process.
Keynote speaker William N. Hait, M.D., Ph.D., global head, Janssen Research & Development. Hait, LLC, one of the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson, shared his vision for predicting and preempting disease before illness ever occurs. “If that fails, we should concentrate on nothing short but curing a disease -- one disease at a time, a world without disease,” he said.
The first panel, moderated by Nsikan Akpan, digital science producer, PBS NewsHour, discussed bold initiatives such as the cancer moonshot and the BRAIN initiative which have led to more collaboration between the public and private sector and patient engagement. France A. Córdova, Ph.D., director, National Science Foundation, added that public-private partnerships are taking on new meaning, especially in times of tight budgets.
The second panel, moderated by Natalie Azar, M.D., NBC News medical contributor, touched on the role of prevention research as it relates to emerging infectious diseases, pain management and opioid abuse, antimicrobial resistance and other conditions. Anne Schuchat M.D., principal deputy director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said prevention research challenges our imaginations, specifically “how to catalyze prevention in ways that will gain congressional support and public support.”
Socioeconomic factors that contribute to health disparities such as income inequality must be considered in efforts to reduce the risk of chronic disease, noted Hortensia Amaro, Ph.D., associate vice provost for community research initiatives and dean's professor of social work and preventative medicine, University of Southern California. Reducing medical and diagnostic errors and increasing investments in the health care system would also improve population health, said Andrew B. Bindman, M.D., director, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
The mission of the Food and Drug Administration was the focus of the third panel, moderated by Geneva Overholser, senior fellow and consultant of the Democracy Fund, and former national syndicated columnist and editor. When asked about agency priorities, FDA commissioner Robert M. Califf, M.D., said a strong workforce is crucial to regulating science like gene editing. Generating evidence, he noted, is also a priority to ensure the agency has good data to make sound regulatory decisions.
Other panelists included: Donna Cryer, president and CEO, Global Liver Institute; John W. Danaher, M.D., MBA, president, Elsevier Education, Elsevier; Emil Kakkis, M.D., Ph.D., president and founder, EveryLife Foundation for Rare Diseases; Albert A. Lauritano, M.S., CLP, director, strategic technology partnerships, BD; The Honorable Kweisi Mfume, former U.S. Representative; Sudip S. Parikh, Ph.D., senior vice president and managing director, DIA Global; Joe V. Selby, M.D., MPH, executive director, Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute; Stephen D. Silberstein, M.D., FAHS, FACP, professor of neurology, director of the Jefferson Headache Center, Thomas Jefferson University; Jean-Christophe Tellier, M.D., CEO and chairman of the Executive Committee, UCB, Inc.; and Keith Yamamoto, Ph.D., vice chancellor for science policy and strategy; vice dean for research, school of medicine, University of California, San Francisco.
For more information on the event, photos and videos, visit researchamerica.org/forum.