A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: Leading with bipartisanship; energized by inspiring stories

Dear Research Advocate:

The goal of the 21st Century Cures Initiative, launched last May by House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI-06) and Ranking Member of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Diana DeGette (D-CO-01), is passage of legislation in 2015 that will eliminate obstacles to faster medical progress. (Representatives Upton and DeGette spoke to a packed audience at FasterCures “Partnering for Cures” meeting in New York on Monday, explaining their goals. Check this out, being sure to listen to the personal story of determination told by Sonia Vallabh; she and her husband have changed their careers to help find a cure for fatal familial insomnia.)

It is exciting to see, for the first time in years, a bipartisan health-related effort gathering strength and support. All of us, whether we are patients or advocates or both, stand to benefit. Research!America has been working with 21st Century Cures to promote strategies that will help speed progress at every stage of the research and development continuum. The most recent example is urging Representatives Upton and DeGette to incorporate Congressman Larry Bucshon’s Research and Development Efficiency Act in their planned legislation. H.R. 5056 would streamline the unjustifiably onerous layers of regulation imposed on federally funded research, freeing up dollars and time to allow research to move faster.

We all have personal stories to share when we communicate with Congress. I’m inspired by Sonia Vallabh, as mentioned above, and Lauren Hill, a 19 year-old with a rare and inoperable brain tumor. The tumor didn’t stop her from playing in her first college basketball game. The freshman at Mount St. Joseph University has learned to shoot with her left hand, even though she is right-handed. She made the opening and closing baskets in her first game earlier this month, overcoming tremendous challenges to realize her dream.

Determination like Sonia’s and Lauren’s fuels our work at Research!America. Elevating medical progress to a higher rank among national priorities is the right, and smart, thing to do. It is research that will end scourges like cancer, Ebola, diabetes and a host of rare disorders. Please consider helping Research!America as we work to increase the attention paid by policymakers to the value of combating deadly health threats. Leading up to and on December 2nd, #GivingTuesday – a national day of giving via social media – your donations to our alliance will be matched by a generous anonymous donor. Please act now to make your contribution. Know that we put every dollar to meaningful use in public education and advocacy.

There is something else you can do to make a difference. Every year on the Monday before Thanksgiving, Research!America and partners mark Public Health Thank You Day. Recent outbreaks, such as Ebola and Enterovirus, demonstrate the challenges and risks our nation’s public health professionals face when carrying out their mission. Join us on Nov. 24 in saluting the public health heroes who do so much, sometimes in dangerous circumstances, to help assure better health for all. More information can be found at http://www.publichealththankyouday.org.

Finally, I wanted to extend heart-felt congratulations to the Honorable Rush D. Holt, Ph.D., who is retiring from Congress this year. He has been selected to lead the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) as its next CEO and executive publisher of Science. Outgoing AAAS CEO and Research!America board member Alan Leshner, Ph.D., has been an exemplary leader and no doubt, will continue to be a driving voice for science advocacy. And we congratulate Congressman Tom Cole (R-OK-04) who was named today to chair the House Labor-H appropriations subcommittee in the 114th Congress. Along with a strong record of accomplishment in office, he brings budget committee expertise, a boon to the significant challenges he will face as Chairman.

Mary Woolley

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