Monthly Archives: May, 2013

Call on Congress to take action and give America cures, not cuts

As the Memorial Day Congressional recess ends, we wrap up our week of social media engagement with a strong message to our representatives: go back to Washington, DC and give us cures, not cuts! Medical and health research has already improved the quality of life for so many Americans. Thanks to cancer research we have better treatments for melanoma and cardiovascular research  has yielded drugs and devices that have saved lives across the U.S.

So many scientific developments are at risk without sustained federal funding. The need for research in neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s and multiple sclerosis is significant. Scientists agree that sequestration is already hampering disease focused research and driving scientists away from research careers here in America. Will policymakers ignore the needs of the American people? Continue reading →

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A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: No rest during “recess”!

Dear Research Advocate:

Yesterday, President Obama tweeted about the effects of sequestration on medical research. From @barackobama, “The #sequester is slowing the pace of medical research, delaying the discovery of cures and treatments. Read more.” It is terrific that the president is helping drive increased attention to medical research. Our thanks to him and also to all who have joined our Memorial Day recess week of social media advocacy. The American Heart Association posted this great image to its Facebook page; we also thank Society for Neuroscience, BIO, The Endocrine Society, Melanoma Research Alliance, University of Maryland School of Medicine, CURE Epilepsy and UPenn Science Policy — among many others — who have participated. Now it’s your turn; let’s kick this campaign into high gear as we wrap up the week!

We know from our regularly commissioned polls that Americans value the work of our taxpayer-supported health agencies. In a recent Gallup poll, the CDC received the best reviews among 10 federal agencies surveyed. Take advantage of this news hook to translate public support into policy-maker action. CDC funding has been subjected to budget cut after budget cut, compromising the agency’s ability to safeguard the health of Americans against pandemics, bioterrorism, drug-resistant strains of infectious disease, and other predictable and unpredictable public health threats. Everyday Americans appear to value CDC more than our policy makers do. Tell your elected representatives: Let’s get past this disconnect; stand up for the CDC.

Research!America has been highlighting the importance of tackling global killers like HIV/AIDS, malaria, TB and neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) during USAID’s Global Health Month. Elected officials and the policy media are often surprised to learn that global health research and development is an integral part of the public and private sector-funded research enterprise in this country. The National Law Review’s coverage (article) of global health has highlighted Research!America’s Top 10 Reasons Why the U.S. Should Invest in Global Health Research & Development. Check it out, and if it whets your appetite for more, take a look at our video about NTDs. Typically not thought of as a problem in the U.S., NTDs are now a significant threat here. We simply must put research to work to stay ahead of the curve — to help our international friends and to maintain health and prosperity at home.

Sincerely,

Mary Woolley

Top “disruptive technologies” that could revolutionize health care and research

Spectral karyotyping sequencing (SKY)A report this month by the McKinsey Global Institute — the subject of a story on The Washington Post’s Wonkblog — identified 12 “disruptive technologies” that could be transformative for the U.S. economy.

Such a forecast necessitates some parameters, of course. The authors, led by MGI Director James Manyika, DPhil, restricted their survey to already-established technologies which could have impacts across industries with a high potential economic impact. And with any forecast, the results are hardly ironclad. But, as Wonkblog contributor Neil Irwin writes, the study “represent[s] a serious effort by some smart people to quantify what appear to be some major forces shaping our technological future.”

Of most concern for us is Continue reading →

Gallup Poll shows majority of Americans give high marks to the CDC and FDA

A recent Gallup poll shows that Americans have an overall positive opinion of the work being done by two federal health agencies. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was given a rating of “good” or “excellent” by 60 percent of respondents. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was given equally positive and fair ratings by 77 percent of those polled. Of the ten agencies listed in the poll, FDA’s rating by the public increased the most between 2009 and 2013. Other agencies reviewed in this latest poll include NASA, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Internal Revenue Service which scored low with nearly half (42%) saying the IRS is doing a “poor job.”

The polling, conducted between May 20 and 21, is the first taken by Gallup of these agencies since 2009 and there has been a steady increase in positive ratings for the CDC and FDA. But how will the public feel about these agencies and their service to the American people one or two years into sequestration? Only time will tell, but cuts to the budgets of these agencies could impair the ability of the CDC to protect Americans from disease outbreaks and hamper the FDA’s efforts to approve new and innovative medical treatments in a timely fashion.

May 29 is World MS Day

Multiple sclerosis, or MS, is a neurological disorder that is a leading cause of disability in young adults. May 29 is World MS Day; started in 2009, it is a global campaign to raise awareness of MS which affects more than 2 million people world-wide and an estimated 400,000 Americans. There is no cure for MS and current therapies have only limited benefits to slow disease progression. Learn more about MS on Research!America’s fact sheet.


Continue reading →

Research!America’s Mary Woolley featured on BIOtechNOW blog

Research!America member Biotechnology Industry Organization, BIO, is amplifying our call to Make Medical Research a National Priority during the Memorial Day congressional recess. The role of biomedical and health research in driving private sector innovation cannot be understated.   The BIOtechNOW blog has posted a guest entry from Research!America president and CEO Mary Woolley on this very topic and the on-going social media campaign. Visit the blog to read the full message and then join us on Twitter and Facebook to speak up for federal support of medical innovation.

Vitamin C may be useful complement to existing drugs in fight against drug-resistant TB

A recently published, unexpected discovery coming from researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Yeshiva University suggests that vitamin C may be a useful component to treating drug-resistant tuberculosis. This finding may sound more like something out of a television medical drama than real life, but the research—funded by the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease at the National Institutes of Health—suggests that ascorbic acid may help kill the bacteria that cause TB.

These preliminary findings have laid a foundation for clinical trials using vitamin C in tandem with other drugs. Researchers observed that vitamin C treatment of the cultured bacteria led to generation of harmful “free radicals” in both drug-sensitive and drug-resistant TB strains. It remains to be seen if vitamin C can have the same effect on the bacteria that have infected a human. Multi- and extreme-drug resistant forms of TB (MDR- and XDR-TB) are significant health threats and developing effective therapy requires the research community using every tool available. Continue reading →

NIH Career Symposium educates young scientists on range of career opportunities and burgeoning responsibilities of scientists

Now, more than ever, young scientists are grappling with important career decisions. For newly minted PhDs, there are fewer and fewer academic faculty positions available. These coveted “tenure track” positions have been the “typical” career path for research scientists in a variety of biomedical fields. Yet in an environment with flat funded research budgets combined with sequestration, a decade of cuts, more scientists are pursuing ‘alternative’ careers.

This desire to learn about the diversity of career options for scientists prompted nearly 1,400 graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and other scientists-in-training to register for the recent Career Symposium hosted by the Office of Intramural Training and Education (OITE) at the National Institutes of Health on May 14. This was the 6th such symposium and it featured sessions on not only the traditional academic track—still a popular career path—but also industry, policy, communications, education and research career options for medical doctors as well. The event also included rapid “skills blitz” sessions on topics like the basics of job searches, resumes and interviewing skills. Continue reading →

What does sequestration mean for biomedical and health research?

We’ve heard plenty in the media about sequestration’s impact to federal agencies including furloughs and short-lived—delays at airports, but how is the biomedical research community dealing with the across-the-board cuts? The word “furlough” is something you would never hear in a research lab; time-sensitive research experiments cannot simply be put on hold. So how will the shortfall in budgets be met?  Many researchers and universities are making tough decisions that could delay promising studies and result in layoffs.

Below are resources with more details about sequestration’s impact to science and the economy. Continue reading →

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: #curesnotcuts

Dear Research Advocate:

I invite you to join me in speaking out during the Memorial Day congressional recess (May 27-31) as part of a social media campaign using the hashtag #curesnotcuts. Our goal is to continue to position research and innovation to improve health where it belongs: as a fundamental national priority that Americans can count on because their elected representatives rank it so highly. In our social media campaign, each day of the recess has a specific theme that can be customized with your information and patient/researcher stories. We have made it easy to get involved: click here to see sample social media messages, a list of selected congressional offices and their Twitter handles, and other resources. Also during Memorial Day recess: the first of several opportunities to participate in open meetings NIH is holding as planning of the BRAIN Initiative goes forward. You can participate in person or by phone. Learn more here.

The House Appropriations Committee has released its 302(b) allocations, setting funding levels for all 12 subcommittees. In a clear calculation that other appropriations bills can be passed at flat or even increased funding levels, one was singled out to absorb the lion’s share of the pain. The Labor-HHS subcommittee, which funds NIH, CDC and AHRQ, was allocated funding 18.6% below its final FY13 number — which already included the FY13 sequestration cut! It is estimated that if this allocation were signed into law, $5.38 billion would be cut from NIH and more than $1 billion from the CDC. While, at the end of the day, a cut of that magnitude is unlikely, the fact that it is even being suggested is of great concern. Think about the classic pattern of “splitting the difference” between House and Senate budgets: If an extremely low number is used by the House, any “compromise” could result in a very steep cut. Research!America is part of a large coalition of more than 900 health, education and workforce training organizations that has sent a letter expressing opposition to the proposed cuts. Please draw on the text to bang the drum loudly on this point to your elected officials! (The committee overseeing FDA fell within “standard” funding allocation levels, but “standard” does not mean adequate. Remember that all federal funding is subject to sequestration, and even without sequestration FDA is grossly underfunded today, given the breadth and complexity of its critical mission.) Continue reading →

House Appropriations Slashes Labor, Education, Health and Human Services Bill

The U.S. House Appropriations committee approved a spending bill for FY14 that slashes the Labor, Education, Health and Human Services bill to its lowest since 1998 when adjusted for inflation. The bill makes deep cuts for medical research and other domestic programs.

The proposed funding is 18.6 percent below 2013 funding levels under sequestration, 22.2 percent below the original appropriations for FY13. These cuts will jeopardize medical innovation and programs that protect Americans’ health.

How low is the suggested appropriations amount? In terms of absolute dollars, it is less than the FY01 funding level. If the 18.6% cut are applied across the board to each program, this proposed allocation would cut more than $5 billion from the National Institutes of Health, $1 billion from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and a combined $1.5 billion from the Health Resources and Services Administration and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Biomedical and health research fuels private sector innovation and the development of new therapies and devices to prevent and fight disease. Contact your representatives and urge them to protect funding for research.

Join us for a Memorial Day Congressional Recess Social Media Advocacy Week: May 27-31

During the Memorial Day Congressional recess, Research!America invites all research stakeholders to join us in sending a strong message to Congress to Make Medical Research a National Priority. We’ll focus on a different theme for Facebook and Twitter messaging each day to show the wide ranging impact of biomedical and health research on our lives and communities. Follow us on Twitter @ResearchAmerica and use the hashtag #curesnotcuts to join in the national conversation. We will also be posting updates on our Facebook page and encourage you to engage your representatives on Facebook as well. Continue reading →

CPH Foundation proposes new logo for the CDC

Reblogged from The CPH Foundation

In honor of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s new 2013 Operating PlanThe CPH Foundation is proposing this new “In the RED” Logo for the CDC!

What a striking change from blue! Continue reading →

UK plans to use presidency of the G8 to develop international agenda to address dementia

The United Kingdom recently announced a plan that will capitalize on its role as President of the G8 to promote an international cooperation to stop dementia.

This announcement sparks the beginning of increased international collaboration among world governments, industry and non-governmental organizations. Representatives of these diverse entities will gather at an upcoming dementia summit in London, scheduled for September. The global impact of dementia and Alzheimer’s is undeniable—over 35.6 million people worldwide battle with dementia. With the aging global population, this figure is predicted to exceed 110 million people by 2050. Continue reading →

Research!America Hosts NTD Forum at Tulane University

On May 15, Research!America hosted a forum, “Neglected Tropical Disease Research in Louisiana: Saving Lives and Creating Jobs.” The forum, featuring leading NTD experts from the region, was held at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in New Orleans.

NTDs Louisiana Forum

Pierre Buekens, MD, PhD, dean of the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, addresses forum attendees.

Pierre Buekens, MD, PhD, dean of the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, made opening remarks. He set the scene for the day, reminding us that there is a false divide between global and domestic health. Dr. Buekens pointed out that borders don’t matter when we share climates and that NTDs can affect people in all corners of world, including New Orleans. He argued that the US is not doing enough to address the threat of NTDs and said that it is “really time to wake up, we really can’t tell other countries what to do if we don’t address it at home.”

The first panel focused on NTDs and NTD research in the U.S. and Louisiana in particular. The panel was moderated by Dean Buekens and featured the following panelists: Patricia Dorn, PhD, Professor of Biological Sciences at Loyola University New Orleans; John B. Malone, DVM, PhD, Professor of Pathobiological Sciences at Louisiana State University; Raoult C. Ratard, MD, State Epidemiologist at the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals and Dawn Wesson, MS, PhD, Associate Professor of Tropical Medicine at Tulane University.   Continue reading →