We all benefit when researchers connect, a sentiment that served as the driving pulse at Research!America’s Straight Talk: National Health Research Forum, held at the Conrad Washington, D.C. on September 5, 2019. Innovators from all disciplines gathered to share their thoughts, key findings, and ideas for the future of research.
The event began with opening remarks from Dr. Robert Redfield, Director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He reflected on the remarkable strides the United States has made to improve public health, and identified eliminating disease and securing global health as key challenges and opportunities for research. “If we can do meaningful science that has an impact in the DRC,” he emphasized, “we can do it here.”
Following these remarks were a series of panel discussions, which featured leaders in government, industry, academia, and professional societies. These panels addressed the wide range of challenges and opportunities for growth within the research field. The panel “Women Researchers Leading Discovery” focused on the importance of investing in women and including female voices when discussing research, while the panel “Collaboration is Key: Exploring the evolving role of cross-sector partnerships as a catalyst to lifesaving progress,” emphasized the importance of understanding organizational culture and leadership in making partnerships work.
Inspired by Research!America’s 30th anniversary, the panel “Then, Now, Imagine” celebrated the amazing discoveries of the past, but highlighted the power of connecting with the public gain support and drive innovation for the future.
Mikael Dolsten, MD, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer and President, Worldwide Research, Development and Medical, Pfizer, presented as the lunchtime keynote speaker. He underscored the key role vaccines have in avoiding preventable deaths, saying, “Vaccines are often called the greatest public health intervention of all time,” and charging the crowd to align public health priorities to ensure lifesaving resources are available wherever they are needed.
The final panel, titled “Leveraging Data to Accelerate Medical Progress,” explored issues of data security, data ownership, and the value of connecting data across platforms and networks.
Closing remarks were provided by Dr. Ned Sharpless, FDA Acting Commissioner who shared what inspires his drive for research, and what led him to where he is today. He also commented on current issues in research that must be addressed, such as the quality of data, stating, “By gathering better quality data, we can more effectively make scientific progress, find answers, help more people.”
The National Health Research Forum concluded with a promise of advancing science and health, not through the work of one agency or one business sector, but with collaboration of scientists and others from government, nonprofits, patient advocacy groups, and industry.
Photo: (Left to Right) Steve Clemons, Editor at Large, The Hill; Tracey D. Brown, MBA, BChE, Chief Executive Officer, American Diabetes Association; Mikael Dolsten, MD, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer and President, Worldwide Research, Development and Medical, Pfizer; Gary J. Nabel, MD, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer, Global Research and Development, and Head of the North American R&D Hub, Sanofi