Dear Research Advocate:
Innovation will be the buzzword on Capitol Hill next week as Senate appropriators meet with experts, including National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Francis Collins and National Science Foundation (NSF) Director France Cordova, for a hearing on April 29, entitled “Driving Innovation through Federal Investments.” As Research!America noted in its written testimony, there’s actually a two-part question underlying that theme: What is the significance of innovation to Americans? And, implicitly, does the return on our investment justify current or higher levels of spending? When it comes to medical innovation, the short answers are: 1) it bears on longevity, individual well-being, deficit reduction, national security, global leadership, etc.; and 2) the economic return on investment justifies robust federal funding levels for research. Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski and committee members are embracing the power of social media to engage the public. Join the conversation using the hashtag #innovation.
Advocates for research must seize this opportunity to underscore the importance of innovation by joining our Medical Progress NOW initiative. Take a moment to email your representatives and urge them to support a substantial increase for NIH in FY15. And take a few more minutes to call your representatives (here are phone lists for the House and the Senate) and make the case to their health legislative assistants. Here is a fact sheet that can help you frame your arguments. The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) has new data to help make the case for stronger federal support for innovation. FASEB recently updated their fact sheets highlighting the importance of NIH funding in the local economy of each state and many congressional districts. If you can go the whole nine yards — to secure $32 billion for NIH in FY15 — call, email, and visit your representatives or their state/district directors. Use social media to spread the word.
One more time-sensitive topic: Ask Your Candidates! Please consider partnering with Research!America and the terrific group of organizations who have already joined this national voter education effort. For more information, visit the Ask Your Candidates! website or shoot an email to Tim Tassa at firstname.lastname@example.org. Since we know how important it is to distinguish this non-partisan educational initiative from a campaign activity, we would be glad to provide a fact sheet about that, as well as materials your grassroots networks can use to get involved. The sooner the better.
The time for medical progress is never later. But there are opportunities to accelerate it now. Let’s make sure they’re taken.
This week’s letter was authored by Mike Coburn, Chief Operating Officer at Research!America.