Monthly Archives: December, 2013

Top 10 Most Popular Research!America Blog Posts of 2013

As the year comes to an end, let’s revisit the top ten most popular Research!America blog posts in 2013 (based on page views) that highlighted the importance of making research for health a higher national priority. We’re thankful for our many outstanding guest bloggers including early career scientists, leaders of industry, academia, patient groups and scientific societies who strongly believe in the promise of scientific discovery and medical innovation to build healthier lives.

10) Millennials Move On

August 14: Guest blog post by Tyler Wiechman on why the millennial generation is leaving science, from his personal experience. “If funding was more available for these VITAL research programs, students of this generation would be much more optimistic about their personal future in clinical research and able to get into academia or the industry of their choice.” Read the post, here.

9) The Science Policy Group at the University of California, San Francisco

July 22:   The Science Policy Group at UCSF speaks out about the “crisis situation” brought about by the sequester. “We have observed a number of our postdoctoral colleagues leave UCSF due to the budgetary constraints both they and their PIs were experiencing.  The immediate consequences, such as sudden lay-offs and premature termination of promising research careers, are obviously tragic.” Read the post, here.

8) Research!America Hosts NTD Forum at Tulane University

May 17: Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) commonly associated with the developing world, have been identified in many parts of the country including Louisiana.  Research!America hosted an NTDs event at the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in New Orleans with health and policy experts. Read highlights of the event, here.

7) Research!America’s Inaugural Advocacy Academy

September 19: Highlights of the inaugural Advocacy Academy which brought 12 postdoctoral researchers from across the U.S. for a two-day advocacy training program in Washington, D.C. that culminated in Capitol Hill visits with their representatives. Read the post (and see photos), here.

6) Public Health Thank You Day, November 25

November 6: Every year, Research!America and other leading health organizations take time to recognize the public health professionals across the country who protect us from disease and injury. The 2013 Public Health Thank You Day blog post describes the round-the-clock activities to address major health threats and promote good health. Learn more about the initiative, here.

5) Neglected Tropical Disease Research in Louisiana: Saving Lives and Creating Jobs

April 24:  Research!America produced two short compelling videos about neglected tropical diseases and patients with NTDs that were unveiled at the NTDs Louisiana event (see post #8). Watch the videos, here.

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

May 30: Blog post about a McKinsey Global Institute’s report that identified 12 “disruptive technologies” that could be transformative for the U.S. economy. “It doesn’t take much imagination to see many of these technologies making an indelible mark on health care and public health.” Sound interesting? Read the post, here.

3) Announcing Research!America’s Inaugural Advocacy Academy

June 4: The third most popular post of 2013 was the announcement of the Research!America’s Inaugural Advocacy Academy which focused on engaging early-career scientists in research advocacy and science policy. The program is an opportunity for postdoctoral fellows to learn how to incorporate advocacy and effective communications into their role as a scientist. (see post #7).  Take a look, here.

2) Cuts to NIH research squeezes young scientists out

July 25: The second most viewed; op-ed by Abigail Schindler, PhD, postdoctoral fellow at the University of Washington, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and co-leader of the Seattle Forum on Science Ethics and Policy published in The Seattle Times. Abigail bemoaned the consequences of sequestration (across-the-board budgets cuts) to science and the careers of young scientists.  Read more here.

1) Heroes for scientific knowledge

October 23: Our most popular post of the year! Benjamin Caballero MS, a PhD candidate at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine (one of the Research Matters Communications Workshop participants) wrote this entry about the importance of scientists communicating their research to the public and policy makers.

“Science is in need of heroes.  It is important to realize that each and every one of us have a role and can become one. Inform yourself, ask questions to the experts and learn how your day-to-day life is benefited from the scientific endeavor. Be a part of human progress, become the hero science needs.”

 Read the post, here.

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Stay tuned for 2014!

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: A 21st Century Sputnik Wake up Call

Dear Research Advocate:

The end of the year is a good time to think ahead and consider our nation at the end of the decade; how will we fare in the world order? My letter this week to the editor of the New York Times highlights poll data indicating that Americans don’t believe the U.S. will be the world leader in science and technology by 2020. This data reflects opinions grounded in numerous media reports on China’s accomplishments and determination to lead the world in science. Chinese accomplishments in space of late and their plans for a space station in 2020 ought to be a 21st century “Sputnik moment” for the U.S. It should be a wake-up call to policy makers: get serious about fueling our nation’s underpowered research and education infrastructure if we expect to compete globally in the years ahead. As NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins noted in his Washington Post op-ed this week, we’re at a “critical juncture” in biomedical research. Do we pursue opportunities derived from recent medical breakthroughs or squander them with insufficient funding for research?  Continue reading →

The Non-Denominational, Bipartisan, Early Career Scientist Holiday Wish List #sciwishlist

By Samantha White, PhD; Research!America Science Policy Fellow

Congress recently passed a budget agreement that should provide some temporary relief from the steep cuts of sequestration.  Unfortunately, this budget is far from a panacea the damage wrought by the sequester and a decade of stagnant funding to our nations research enterprise.  One alarming consequence has been a devastating blow innovative scientific studies to help fight deadly and disabling diseases.

During this season of giving, the Appropriations Committee will allocate funding to the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and other scientific agencies. 

We at Research!America wanted to know what early career scientists, arguably one of the hardest-hit demographics in the scientific community, would put on their holiday “Wish List” for appropriators. Continue reading →

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: Pope Francis is the Man of the Year; do you know what the Word of the Year is?

Dear Research Advocate:

Here’s a holiday surprise! I am not referring to the budget deal, but to the fact that Merriam-Webster’s 2013 word of the year — determined via the greatest increase in online searches — is “science.” I find this to be refreshing news, providing evidence that interest in science is growing, which in turn is an indication of substantial room for researchers and research advocates to contribute to public understanding and support of science. We appear to have an opportunity ready for the taking to overcome the “invisibility” problem that contributes to holding decision makers back from assigning a higher priority to science.

And speaking of those decision makers, we have a budget deal! While modest at best, it is a starting point for bipartisanship in serving the public’s interest. We can build on this foundation. Please add your voice, as funding is being determined by appropriators. Click here to urge your Members of Congress to support robust funding for NIH, NSF, FDA, CDC and AHRQ. This week, we’ve released our annual Health R&D Investment report, which could provide new context for your messages. The report shows some gains in philanthropy, industry, and voluntary health association support for research but notes woefully inadequate federal funding, especially given what’s at stake for our health and our economy. Continue reading →

Research!America president and CEO Mary Woolley on Senate Passage of Budget Agreement

December 18, 2013

“Senate passage of the budget agreement brings us closer to restoring some of the funding lost under sequestration for medical and health research but this is a band-aid approach to solving our fiscal woes.  Our nation’s research ecosystem has been a dealt a severe blow and will need robust funding to recover from steep budget cuts that slowed medical progress.  We urge appropriators to adequately fund the National Institutes of Health and other agencies that advance scientific discovery and innovation to confront the many deadly and disabling diseases impacting our nation’s health and economy.”

Health R&D Spending Moves Slowly Upward, Driven by Industry, Philanthropy and Voluntary Health Associations

Federal R&D Funding Remains “Woefully Inadequate” to Address Health Threats and Global Competitiveness

Highlights:

  • Overall health R&D spending in the U.S. increased by $4.3 billion (3.5%).
  • Industry, philanthropy and voluntary associations led gains in R&D spending.
  • Federal R&D spending rose 2.2% but a considerable amount is the result of agency reorganization and reclassification.

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—December 17, 2013After declining in FY10-11, health-related research and development (R&D) spending in the U.S. increased by $4.3 billion (3.5%) in FY11-12, according to Truth and Consequences: Health R&D Spending in the U.S. (FY11-12), the 10th edition from Research!America highlighting estimates of U.S. investments. This spending increase was largely driven by industry, philanthropy and voluntary health associations as well as changes in the classification of spending within a few federal agencies. For the full report, click here.

“Industry, philanthropic and voluntary health association R&D spending increases offer a glimmer of hope in this dark era for medical research,” said Research!America’s chair, former Congressman John E. Porter. “Stagnant federal investments jeopardize our nation’s ability to advance medical progress and fuel private sector innovation, a catalyst for job creation and economic recovery.” Continue reading →

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: “It always seems impossible until it’s done”– Nelson Mandela

Dear Research Advocate:

As I’m sure you’ve heard, the Joint Budget Committee released a two-year budget agreement Tuesday night. The package involves $63 billion in partial sequestration relief over two years, offset by fees (not taxes!) and a wide variety of cost-sharing arrangements, AKA “pay fors.” While it remains unclear whether user fees will be subjected to any sequester in 2014 and 2015, the already-sequestered FDA user fees are locked up and cannot be used to accelerate medical advances. This is a missed opportunity that patients can’t afford. While not a perfect deal in many respects, the House is expected to approve the Murray-Ryan budget deal within moments, and the Senate is expected to pass it next week.

For the advocacy community, the overall budget number is important, but the appropriations process that follows is crucial. The funding levels for NIH, CDC and AHRQ depend on the funding allocated to the Labor-H subcommittee and the FDA on the Agricultural subcommittee. Since dealmakers have not dealt with tax or entitlement reform, this will involve robbing Peter to pay Paul, and it won’t be pretty. Decisions will be made soon, as Congress is working against a January 15 deadline. Please consider contacting your Members of Congress to urge them to weigh in on how funding is allocated to appropriators and, in short order, allocated by appropriators — ask them to maximize funding for NIH, CDC, AHRQ, FDA and NSF. A report released this week by United for Medical Research, featuring a collection of stories about the negative impact that sequestration has had on NIH as well as the impact on individual research laboratories, can help you make the case. Continue reading →

Member spotlight: the Association for Psychological Science

By Alan G. Kraut, Executive Director of the Association for Psychological Science

Kraut_Alan_APSIn the minds of many people, there is a separation between biomedical research and behavioral research. But that separation is artificial. Behavior is at the core of many health problems. Six out of 10 of the leading causes of premature death, including heart disease, diabetes, and stroke, are linked in part to genetic influences but also to controllable behaviors like physical inactivity, poor diet and smoking.

Our 25,000 members are scientists and educators at the nation’s universities and colleges, conducting federally funded basic and applied, theoretical, and clinical research.  They look at such things as the connections between emotion, stress, and biology and the impact of stress on health; they look at ways to manage debilitating chronic conditions such as diabetes and arthritis as well as depression and other mental disorders; they look at how genes and the environment influence behavioral traits such as aggression and anxiety; and they address the behavioral aspects of smoking and drug and alcohol abuse.

Just as there exists a layered understanding, from basic to applied, of how molecules affect brain cancer, there is a similar spectrum for behavioral research.  Continue reading →

Research!America President and CEO Mary Woolley on Budget Agreement

December 11, 2013

The budget deal moves the needle in the right direction but not far enough. We’re gratified medical research and other non-defense discretionary programs will get a modicum of relief from sequestration’s bitter pill but it’s not enough to meet the expectations of patients waiting for new treatments and cures.  The budget deal also fails to address tax and entitlement reform, the main contributors to our deficit. Until policy makers tackle those issues head-on, we will continue to fund medical innovation at levels far below what’s necessary to maintain our competitive edge.

Tell Congress to Protect Medical and Health Research

To protect medical and health research, policy makers must eliminate sequestration. This remains Research!America’s top-line message, because it is sequestration that poses the greatest threat to all discretionary funding, including medical and health research conducted by NIH, CDC, FDA, NSF, AHRQ, DOD … and the list goes on. Advocates for medical and health research have made a huge impact over the years on funding and policies supportive of medical and health research, including playing a key role in reducing sequestration in 2013. We are asking you to weigh in again to help address sequestration in FY14 and FY15.

On Wednesday, the co-chairs of the committee charged with establishing an overall budget number for FY14 struck a deal that would establish this top-line number for both FY14 and FY15. Under this agreement, the sequestration cuts would be reduced by $50-$60 billion over the two-year period (a reduction of approximately 30% each year). While this modest reduction is less than hoped for, it does signal progress in the fight against sequestration. The task now is to assure this or a better deal passes both the House and Senate by December 13.

Please contact your representatives in Congress and urge them to vote in favor of a significant reduction in sequestration for FY14 and FY15 as a down payment on eliminating sequestration.

Take action now.

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: Call in Friday morning to help change the national conversation

Dear Research Advocate:

Research!America, in partnership with the American Society of Hematology, released a new poll on Tuesday, revealing strong feelings about the consequences of recent fiscal debacles. A majority (57%) of Americans, across party lines, believe that the government shutdown in October caused significant harm to programs like medical research, defense and education, programs that Americans value. It is not difficult to connect the dots between fiscal dysfunction and the future of our nation: More Americans than ever believe that our nation’s global leadership in science, technology and research will soon be a thing of the past,with 73% saying we will lose global leadership by 2020 — just six years from now. A plurality says China will surpass us by then. This perception is not far off base. China and other countries, including most recently Mexico, are making major commitments to their research and innovation infrastructure. They are determined to drive their economy and contribute to health and prosperity by following what was for years the leadership example set by the U.S.

Last month, following President Enrique Peña Nieto’s leadership, the Mexican Congress increased the budget for the primary national science and technology agency by 20% for 2014 and increased the nation’s overall science budget by 12%. Battelle predicts that China’s dramatic increases in federal research spending have positioned the nation to overtake the U.S. in total R&D investment within a few short years. It’s high time we match the bold visions of Mexico, China and many other nations. Continue reading →

Majority of Americans Believe Another Government Shutdown Likely in Coming Months; Last One Harmful to Medical Research

New National Poll Reveals Many Respondents Predict China will Surpass U.S.
in Science and Innovation by 2020

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—December 3, 2013—Nearly two-thirds (65%) of Americans say it’s likely there will be another government shutdown in the months ahead as Congress continues to debate deficit and budget issues, according to a new national public opinion poll commissioned by Research!America and the American Society of Hematology. This sentiment is shared across party affiliations: Democrats (66%), Republicans (65%) and Independents (65%). There is also consensus across party lines that government dysfunction has consequences. A majority of Americans (57%) say the shutdown in October caused significant harm to many government-funded programs including medical research, defense and education. Democrats (68%) and about half of Republicans (49%) and Independents (51%) agree.

On the topic of sequestration, a plurality (44%) says Congress must tackle tax and entitlement reform to reduce the deficit instead of continuing the 10 years of across-the-board cuts; another 16% say sequestration is not the right way to reduce the deficit. Less than a quarter (23%) believe the across-the-board cuts are a way of ensuring that many government programs share the pain, and 17% say they’re not sure. In general, 62% of Americans say they’re concerned about the long-term effects of sequestration on advances in health care such as the development of new drugs and other treatments.

“Our poll demonstrates uneasiness among many Americans about the ramifications of deep spending cuts to programs that are critical to our health and well-being,” said Mary Woolley, president and CEO of Research!America. “Americans want Congress to reach a budget deal that protects medical and health research, at least in part because of concern that our nation is at risk of losing our global leadership position in science and innovation.” Continue reading →