Dear Research Advocate:
In recognition of his many accomplishments as a champion for research, Research!America Chair and former Congressman John Edward Porter was honored by the National Academy of Sciences with the Public Welfare Medal, the Academy’s most prestigious award. This well-deserved acknowledgment of Porter’s tireless efforts to advance innovation and engage scientists in advocacy should motivate advocates to follow his lead and speak up about threats to our nation’s research ecosystem. Read our statement on the award ceremony here.
In his remarks, Mr. Porter noted that “political judgment should never be allowed to be substituted for scientific judgment.” This point was particularly well-timed as political attacks on science, particularly health services research, continue unabated.
A case study from Louisiana highlights the importance of health research in saving lives. Children’s Hospital in New Orleans had an outbreak of a deadly hospital-acquired infection, mucormycosis in 2008-09. In response to several outbreaks in recent years, the CDC launched new targeted initiatives to help hospitals and health departments share information with the public about hospital-acquired infections.This type of public health work, based on health services research findings, is critical to delivering high quality care, reducing medical errors and protecting patients.
Collaborations between government, industry and academia have led to even more initiatives that improved public health, noted Robert Hugin, Chairman and CEO of Celgene Corporation and PhRMA Chair, in an op-ed published in The Hill. Yet policies and funding cuts have slowed the pace of commercial innovation, asserted Research!America president and CEO Mary Woolley, who, in a Huffington Post op-ed, said that it’s time for elected officials and candidates to share their positions on medical innovation with voters. But there are hopeful signs that Congress is recognizing the value of innovation, at least in a piecemeal fashion, with House Ways and Means Committee passage of the “American Research and Competitiveness Act of 2014” (H.R. 4438). The bipartisan bill would make permanent a tax credit crucial for spurring private-sector innovation, creating quality jobs and accelerating the development of products for consumers. The fate of the measure is uncertain as concerns over how to offset the costs of the tax breaks remain a point of contention.
To call attention to the need for strong congressional support for innovation, we urge you to participate in a social media Day of Action on Tuesday, May 6, in conjunction with our Medical Progress NOW! campaign. Join us in posting tweets using the hashtag #medprogressnow, Facebook messages, videos and photos about the urgency of securing robust funding for the NIH in FY15. You can direct your messages to individual appropriators by including their Twitter handles; our toolkit includes that information as well as sample social media messages. Please encourage your networks to join the conversation on May 6!
Lastly, we’re proud to announce that Research!America was recognized by The Communicator Awards, a leading international awards program. Mary Woolley’s op-ed in The Scientist “Who We Work For” received the 2014 Gold Award of Excellence; John Porter’s op-ed in CNN.com “A do-nothing Congress isn’t healthy” received the Silver Award of Distinction; and our “We Need Cures, Not Cuts!” radio tour and social media campaign won the Silver Award of Distinction.
This week’s letter was authored by Suzanne Ffolkes, Vice President of Communications at Research!America.