A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: The president delivers a charge to the science community

Dear Research Advocate,

President Obama spoke to the National Academies of Science on Monday. I commend his remarks to you. He charged the members of the Academy, and by extension the science community writ large, to engage at “the center and the heart of our public debate.” He said that IF scientists do so, the nation will be assured of continued prominence. IF is a tall order — it makes most scientists very uncomfortable, but it is essential that we get out of our comfort zone right now. The president didn’t pound his fist on the podium in stressing this, so I will. The science community simply cannot step away from the public and political fray right now; not if we want to see the end of sequestration and not if we want to hear no more talk, such as has become more serious this week, of upending peer review.

Draft legislation from Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), chair of the House Science Committee, would do just that. The bill in its current form would require the NSF director to certify that all grants meet certain criteria before providing funding for a project, effectively adding another layer of review for research projects and overriding current NSF guidelines. The committee has released a statement on the proposed legislation. You can view the legislation here and send your feedback to the committee using this link.

We continue to beat the drum in the media about the foolishness of sequestration, including in a Marketplace radio broadcast on NPR stations. Also this week on NPR, an interview with NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins highlighted sequestration’s impact on medical research and the challenging career pathway for young scientists. This is the time to accept the president’s charge and join in at the heart and center of the public dialogue — make a point, today, of reaching out to local media. Sequestration is going to stay in the news for awhile; science will not be part of the story unless the advocacy community speaks out.

Many of you have attended our annual Advocacy Awards dinner held in March each year. We are fast approaching the deadline for nominations for our next Advocacy Awards, which will mark our 25th anniversary celebration! Please take a moment to browse the categories and nominate an individual, or an organization, who should be recognized for outstanding advocacy. There are no Nobel Prizes for advocates; recognition by the Research!America alliance is the next best thing! Contact Barbara Love with any questions about the nominations process.

Next Thursday, May 9, Research!America is co-sponsoring a discussion on healthy aging across the lifespan. The event will feature a variety of speakers including Susan Dentzer, a Research!America Board member. I hope you can join us! You can find more information and RSVP here.

Sincerely,

Mary Woolley

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