Dear Research Advocate,
This is the time of year when many of us attempt to translate our successes, defeats, observations and unfulfilled goals into New Year’s resolutions. I have some thoughts about resolutions in the context of advocacy for research to improve health. I welcome your feedback as Research!America continues to fight for funding and a policy environment that propels medical and health progress forward.
1) We will not only push for pro-innovation policy making, we will push for policy making itself. In other words: leadership, bipartisanship and compromise. The recent bipartisan, bicameral budget action in Congress is a small step in the right direction, but it is just the beginning of a long journey. Without a clear vision of the future and a cooperative spirit across parties, across disciplines and across sectors, support for research will continue to stagnate.
2) We will not only fight to end sequestration and dispense with draconian budget caps, we will fight for tax and entitlement reform. Without the latter, some manner of assault on discretionary budget priorities is inevitable.
3) We will fight to ensure that the voices of Americans are heard when it comes to making research and innovation a higher priority. In launching our election-year voter education campaign, we will reach out to the hearts and minds of Americans nationwide, seeking media as well as policy maker and would-be policy maker attention to a topic that is taken too much for granted.
4) We will not lower our expectations. The budget compromise is a good thing, but the most essential thing is making research for health a much higher national priority. Other nations are doing this; why not the U.S.? We must not tiptoe around the truth: Our global leadership and competitiveness in the research arena is slipping away from us; young scientists crucial to future medical progress are leaving the profession (or moving to China); Americans are dying prematurely or living with chronic pain, severe mobility limitations and other profoundly challenging disabilities; and health care costs remain a difficult issue. Investing in an environment that empowers public and private sector funded research is the appropriate countermeasure to these grim realities; why is it being ignored? The most eye-opening report on the impending loss of U.S. global leadership that I have read of late is Michael Specter’s “Letter from Shenzhen” in the current New Yorker; it follows on my “Sputnik moment” LTE in The New York Times almost eerily, although this time it’s not about space science but the genome.
Our work plan for 2014 — the year Research!America marks as our 25th anniversary — is to work in close collaboration with our members and our colleagues in the advocacy community to build and execute strategies around these resolutions. Together, we will work to achieve higher funding for our federal health agencies; smart policies that empower, rather than impede, private sector innovators; and, most importantly, unleash the palpable potential for making unprecedented medical progress. Please join me in kicking off the new year by reaching out to policy makers, especially appropriators working against a tight deadline, with messages of resolve for 2014.