A Weekly Advocacy Message from Research!America: Will appropriators do the right thing for research?

Dear Research Advocate:

Research!America board member and co-chair of One Mind, Patrick Kennedy, and the head of neuroscience research at Janssen Research & Development, Husseini Manji, shared their perspectives on the state of neurological and mental health research and treatment in a USA Today op-ed. As Kennedy and Manji remind us, a quarter of our population experience mental illness, but nearly 60% of those individuals do not receive any treatment. Federal funding for medical and health research is crucial to improving diagnosis and treatment, and developing cures for patients who suffer from mental illness, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and a whole range of other diseases.

But time is ticking away on the appropriations process as the August recess approaches. With each passing day, the possibility of regular order diminishes and the likelihood of a continuing resolution (CR) increases. Yet all is not lost. Advocates must continue to push for increased funding for research and health agencies in FY15 (it would take the form of an “anomaly,” which is basically an exception to status quo). There has been talk, albeit muted, that some members may refuse to pass a CR and instead opt for a government shutdown, a scenario most Americans agree is harmful to federally funded programs, including medical research, according to our polling.

We learned first-hand the negative impact a government shutdown can have on research and clinical trials. Patients like Steve — featured in our sixth fact sheet installment — and others with Parkinson’s disease cannot afford delays in clinical trials. Please continue to share this fact sheet series with your networks and Members of Congress. They are generating buzz in congressional offices and getting the attention they deserve.

This week, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced its new Undiagnosed Diseases Network, which consists of $43 million in grants to six medical research centers (housed at UCLA, Baylor, Duke, Vanderbilt, Stanford, Harvard and NIH) that will focus on rare disorders and mystery diseases. This innovative model answers the call to serve countless patients with prolonged undiagnosed conditions. Let’s work to make sure that Congress supports the Undiagnosed Diseases Network and all medical research robustly with its power of the purse.

The latest Battelle/BIO State Bioscience Jobs, Investments and Innovation 2014 report highlights trends in the national bioscience industry, which has strong prospects for growth. But the report notes that the decline in federal research funding and venture capital investments is a cause for concern if not addressed. The state-by-state economic analysis is a useful tool for outreach to Congressional offices. Contact Members of Congress and tell them why the bioscience industry is important in your state!

While you’re relaxing over the Fourth of July weekend, consider sending a quick message to candidates in your state and district and ask if they will support medical progress once elected. According to the National Retail Federation, Americans will spend $6.2 billion on cookouts to celebrate Independence Day — six times the current level of NIH funding for diabetes research. If you think that it’s time for elected officials to reorder national priorities and place a stronger emphasis on research, talk to the candidates! They won’t know medical progress and research is important to you unless you tell them. Click here to ask candidates where they stand on medical progress.

This week’s letter was authored by Suzanne Ffolkes, Vice President of Communications at Research!America.

Sincerely,

Suzanne Ffolkes

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