A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: What’s wrong with this picture?

Dear Research Advocate:

According to our new national public opinion poll on clinical trials and related topics, most Americans are willing to share their personal health data to advance research, and 72% would be willing to participate in a clinical trial if recommended by their doctor. This complements what we know from other polling, i.e. that Americans want research to proceed at a pace of scientific opportunity. Yet we continue to lose ground in the gridlocked political environment, which, by its inaction, is dashing the hopes of patients and families anxious for new therapies and cures. What’s wrong with this picture?

It isn’t as though research hasn’t yielded both societal and economic benefits! United for Medical Research (UMR) and Battelle Technology Partnership Practice have released a report on the economic and transformative impact of the Human Genome Project, timed as we celebrate the 10th anniversary of its completion. This visionary project has resulted in wildly successful public-private partnerships, more than 4.3 million job-years of supported employment, and nearly $1 trillion in total economic impact since 1988.

The goals of the BRAIN Initiative have been compared to those of the Human Genome Project. Breakthroughs are so desperately needed to overcome Alzheimer’s and a plethora of other serious illnesses. In a recent Bloomberg View article, columnist Al Hunt points out the folly of starving research while we are faced with such major health challenges.

The emergence in the U.S. of what we wrongly think of as health threats confined to developing nations underscores the need to confront these diseases head on. Join us in Washington, DC, on Monday, June 17, for a Capitol Hill briefing titled “The Role of the U.S. Government and the Case for Scaling Up Treatment and Accelerating Innovation for the World’s Most Neglected Patients.” The briefing will focus on neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) and the urgent need for research to develop new tools to combat these global killers.

Research!America has announced our inaugural Advocacy Academy, a two-day training opportunity for postdoctoral researchers to be held in September in Washington, DC. Scientists from Research!America member organizations will have an opportunity to participate in a policy and advocacy training workshop that culminates with Capitol Hill meetings and our National Health Research Forum. Please share the announcement with post-docs whom you think might be interested.

We salute the service and leadership of Surgeon General Regina Benjamin who recently announced her resignation as the nation’s top doctor. An active advocate for public health, Dr. Benjamin “taught America how to walk again,” in the words of Research!America Board member and American Public Health Association Executive Director Georges Benjamin. Deputy Surgeon General Boris Lushniak will assume the post in July while a permanent replacement is sought.

Sincerely,

Mary Woolley

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