On February 26, the Global Health Technologies Coalition held a Capitol Hill briefing, “Renewing US leadership: Policies to advance global health research.” The briefing included displays from global health nonprofits, the launch of GHTC’s fourth annual policy report as well as a panel discussion. Panelists included Dr. Lee Hall, Chief of Parasitology and International Programs at NIAID, Dr. Alan Magill, Director of Malaria at the Gates Foundation and Dr. Caroline Ryan, Deputy Coordinator for Technical Leadership at PEPFAR. Each highlighted key U.S. contributions to global health including the development of a rapid TB diagnostic, advances in HIV/AIDS treatment and delivery through PEPFAR and a new treatment for leishmaniasis developed in part by researchers at the Department of Defense. Speakers pointed out that many of these medical breakthroughs were accomplished through leveraging U.S. government funding and working in public-private partnerships. All speakers expressed concern that cutting federal funding for global health research could jeopardize progress for these lifesaving tools.
In particular, Alan Magill warned of “breaking something that will be very difficult to put back together.” Speaker and moderator Lisa Cohen, Executive Director of the Washington Global Health Alliance, wrapped up the session citing Research!America poll data and reminding us that there is incredible support for this work – we just need to connect the dots for decision makers and funders. “78% of Americans think it is important to support global health research – we don’t think about this but when Americans are asked, it is clear that people care about these issues.”
–Morgan McCloskey, global health intern
Most Say Federally Funded Basic Research is Important to Private Sector Innovation
Alexandria, Va.—February 26, 2013— More than two-thirds (67%) of small business leaders say basic research funded by the federal government is important to private sector innovation, according to a new nationwide survey of small business owners/operators commissioned by Research!America. In addition, nearly half (45%) say medical research funding to universities and other non-governmental research institutions should not be cut as part of sequestration, and a plurality (40%) say that such across-the-board cuts are not a smart strategy for reducing the deficit.
The survey findings also reveal that small businesses support the federal government’s role in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education. Seventy percent of respondents say STEM education is important to the future of their business and the federal government should increase funding for those programs.
“It is striking that small business owners, the backbone of our economy comprising nearly 80% of business leaders nationwide, strongly value federal support for research and recognize the major role it plays in spurring private sector growth,” said Research!America President and CEO Mary Woolley.
A majority of respondents (85%) say it’s very important or somewhat important to reduce the federal debt and deficit and to cut federal corporate and individual tax rates (81%). Among the top strategies for deficit reduction are entitlement reform (25%), eliminating targeted corporate tax breaks (22%) and closing tax loopholes (21%). Seventy-seven percent say the rising cost of health care, a major chunk of our national debt, is important to their businesses, a concern that mirrors other components of the economy as well as individuals. A huge majority, 80%, say it’s important for the government to support research that focuses on making our health care system more efficient.
The concern of small business owners is strikingly evident as it relates to our nation’s world leadership status, with 90% describing research and development as important to our global competitiveness.
“Small business owners understand the critical role of federal government in giving small businesses a launching pad that includes the stimulus of innovation based on federally supported research and development,” added Woolley. “Deep cuts to medical research funding would be detrimental to small businesses, our nation’s economy and global competitiveness if policy makers allow the sequester to take effect.”
The nationwide survey of small business owners/operators was conducted by Zogby Analytics for Research!America. Based on a confidence interval of 95%, the margin of error for the panel of 203 business owners is +/-7.0 percentage points.
To view the poll, visit: www.researchamerica.org/uploads/Feb2013smallbizsurvey.pdf
About Research!America polls
Research!America began commissioning polls in 1992 in an effort to understand public support for medical, health and scientific research. The results of Research!America’s polls have proven invaluable to our alliance of member organizations and, in turn, to the fulfillment of our mission to make research to improve health a higher national priority. In response to growing usage and demand, Research!America has expanded its portfolio, which includes state, national and issue-specific polling. Poll data is available by request or at www.researchamerica.org.
Research!America is the nation’s largest nonprofit public education and advocacy alliance working to make research to improve health a higher national priority. Founded in 1989, Research!America is supported by member organizations representing 125 million Americans. Visit www.researchamerica.org.
February 26, 2013
The Board of Directors of Research!America joins me in extending our deepest condolences to Dr. C. Everett Koop’s family, friends and colleagues as we mourn the passing of a visionary leader and champion of medical research. Dr. Koop was well-respected and revered by scientists, the public health community and the public at large, thanks to his unceasing commitment to strengthening government support for research to address health threats. As U.S. Surgeon General, he was known as “America’s Family Doctor.” Notably, by promoting fitness and raising awareness of disease prevention and immunization, he encouraged individuals to take an active role in their health. Koop’s innovative thinking saved lives and improved quality of life for many Americans as he sounded the alarm on the deadly health effects of smoking and the most challenging health issues of our time, making an extraordinary commitment to raising awareness about, and determination to combat, HIV/AIDS. After serving two terms as Surgeon General, Dr. Koop was named honorary director of Research!America. In 1994, he partnered with us to create a widely viewed national public service campaign in support of medical research. Nearly 20 years later, the campaign is still recognized for its impactful message that “insufficient medical research can be hazardous to your health.” His leadership served to elevate the importance of research and public health in our national conversation with unparalleled success. His legacy is second to none.
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The impact of sequestration will translate into reduced local and state funding to protect your health and safety. In a recent CQ article (CDC Director Frieden Predicts Local Public Health Cuts Under Sequester – subscription required), CDC Director Thomas Frieden reminded us that the vast majority of the agency’s funding goes out to local and state health departments. These frontline health providers identify and protect us from threats like the flu, foodborne outbreaks, contaminated water, road traffic injuries, and new pathogens. The problem is that we don’t know what we’re missing until it’s too late because these frontline health workers are usually silent heroes.
Take action against sequestration now – http://capwiz.com/ram/home/. To thank our public health heroes and raise awareness of public health, please visit http://www.researchamerica.org/ph_thank_you and http://www.cphfoundation.org/.
–Jennifer Chow, Director, Global Health R&D and Public Health Advocacy
You may be familiar with chocolate kisses and candy hearts on Valentine’s Day, but have you ever heard of “kissing bugs?” These insects, found throughout Latin America and parts of the United States, transmit Chagas disease, a parasitic infection that can lead to heart disease in both humans and animals. Chagas infects up to 10 million people worldwide and is a growing problem here in the U.S. It is estimated that 300,000 individuals here at home have Chagas and the disease costs the U.S. nearly $1 billion annually in lost productivity and health care costs. Some experts are also concerned about the growing number of animals with Chagas infections. A recent study showed that in Louisiana, up to 60% of dogs in some kennels have tested positive for Chagas. The Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio has reported Chagas in military working dogs, and several dogs overseas have actually had to return home because of symptoms from the disease, leaving the units they supported without explosive detection dogs. Clearly this is just one small part of the global story of Chagas as the disease costs thousands of lives and imposes a significant economic burden on all affected countries, most notably in Latin America. More research is necessary to better understand the true impact of Chagas in both animals and people and to develop more effective tools to combat this potentially deadly disease worldwide.
–Morgan McCloskey, global health intern
On February 5, the Task Force for Global Health, a non-profit based in Decatur, Georgia announced that it received a $28.8 million, five-year grant from the Gates Foundation for neglected tropical disease research. This funding will support the new Neglected Tropical Diseases Support Center and will allow the center to work with the NTD community to address challenges in implementing NTD control programs. The Center will focus primarily on operational research and will work to develop new solutions to increase the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of NTD interventions. The grant will also support the development of a “Coalition for Operational Research for NTDs,” which will allow for more collaboration between international NTD researchers. Awarded just over a year after the London Declaration on NTDs, this grant is an important step forward in the fight against NTDs as it “will support the research needed to eliminate and control these dreaded diseases.”
-Morgan McCloskey, global health intern
On February 7, The Lancet Infectious Diseases published an enlightening report on the global economic impact of Chagas disease. Chagas, a parasitic disease transmitted through insects called “kissing bugs,” infects nearly 10 million people worldwide, including 300,000 here in the U.S. Some people can carry the disease without knowing they have it, while others can experience debilitating respiratory infections and potentially lethal heart complications. The study examines in detail both the global and domestic economic cost of Chagas disease, which rival better publicized infections such as Lyme disease, and illustrates the urgent need for research for new tools to fight this disease.
-Ian Bradley, Research!America intern
Join Research!America and the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network for a pre-SOTU Twitter chat on Monday, February 11, 1 to 2 p.m. ET. Visit @ResearchAmerica and @ACSCAN on Twitter to follow Research!America President Mary Woolley and ACSCAN President Chris Hansen as they discuss important facts about sequestration and answer questions from participants. Use the hashtag #curesnotcuts in your tweets to join the conversation.