Category Archives: Interdisciplinary Research

Member spotlight: UAW Local 5810: The Union For Postdocs at the University of California

By Neal Sweeney, PhD, President. Sweeney is a postdoctoral scholar at UC Santa Cruz studying stem cell therapies for eye disease. Neal Sweeny, PhD

Chartered in 2008, UAW Local 5810 represents over 6,000 postdoctoral scholars at the University of California, or approximately one tenth of all postdocs nationwide. Our members work at the cutting edge of the most sophisticated research in the world in a wide variety of health-related fields and beyond, and their contributions and discoveries move society forward in important ways.

UAW 5810

The contract that our union negotiated with the University of California in 2010 includes a minimum salary scale that matches the NIH/NRSA scale, a stable and comprehensive benefits plan, more job security, and the right to career development resources. With the increases we’ve won in paid time off, female postdocs no longer have to face uncertain maternity leave. And when work-related issues arise, there is an impartial process for resolving them. When postdocs have an equal say in determining our working conditions, our quality of life improves, which in turn improves the quality of research. Continue reading →

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Call on Congress to take action and give America cures, not cuts

As the Memorial Day Congressional recess ends, we wrap up our week of social media engagement with a strong message to our representatives: go back to Washington, DC and give us cures, not cuts! Medical and health research has already improved the quality of life for so many Americans. Thanks to cancer research we have better treatments for melanoma and cardiovascular research  has yielded drugs and devices that have saved lives across the U.S.

So many scientific developments are at risk without sustained federal funding. The need for research in neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s and multiple sclerosis is significant. Scientists agree that sequestration is already hampering disease focused research and driving scientists away from research careers here in America. Will policymakers ignore the needs of the American people? Continue reading →

Top “disruptive technologies” that could revolutionize health care and research

Spectral karyotyping sequencing (SKY)A report this month by the McKinsey Global Institute — the subject of a story on The Washington Post’s Wonkblog — identified 12 “disruptive technologies” that could be transformative for the U.S. economy.

Such a forecast necessitates some parameters, of course. The authors, led by MGI Director James Manyika, DPhil, restricted their survey to already-established technologies which could have impacts across industries with a high potential economic impact. And with any forecast, the results are hardly ironclad. But, as Wonkblog contributor Neil Irwin writes, the study “represent[s] a serious effort by some smart people to quantify what appear to be some major forces shaping our technological future.”

Of most concern for us is Continue reading →

Research!America Hosts NTD Forum at Tulane University

On May 15, Research!America hosted a forum, “Neglected Tropical Disease Research in Louisiana: Saving Lives and Creating Jobs.” The forum, featuring leading NTD experts from the region, was held at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in New Orleans.

NTDs Louisiana Forum

Pierre Buekens, MD, PhD, dean of the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, addresses forum attendees.

Pierre Buekens, MD, PhD, dean of the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, made opening remarks. He set the scene for the day, reminding us that there is a false divide between global and domestic health. Dr. Buekens pointed out that borders don’t matter when we share climates and that NTDs can affect people in all corners of world, including New Orleans. He argued that the US is not doing enough to address the threat of NTDs and said that it is “really time to wake up, we really can’t tell other countries what to do if we don’t address it at home.”

The first panel focused on NTDs and NTD research in the U.S. and Louisiana in particular. The panel was moderated by Dean Buekens and featured the following panelists: Patricia Dorn, PhD, Professor of Biological Sciences at Loyola University New Orleans; John B. Malone, DVM, PhD, Professor of Pathobiological Sciences at Louisiana State University; Raoult C. Ratard, MD, State Epidemiologist at the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals and Dawn Wesson, MS, PhD, Associate Professor of Tropical Medicine at Tulane University.   Continue reading →

Existing “brain drain” a reality for sciences, worsened under sequestration

In 2012, months before sequestration was enacted, scientists were already pressed to find jobs. Take the example of “Rebecca,” whose story was featured in a recent Huffington Post article. She had completed her PhD in chemistry and was working in an academic research laboratory. When her lab didn’t get a new grant to allow her to continue the research, she ended up unemployed. In an already tough financial environment, she spent three months looking for employment in research, hoping to utilize her hard-earned doctoral degree. Continue reading →

Nationwide, investments in science and technology drive economic recovery

The 2012 State Technology and Science Index from the Milken Institute provides a state-by-state breakdown of technology and science capabilities and how well states have converted those assets into companies and high-paying jobs. Where does your state rank? Massachusetts ranked number one for the past 5 indices—released every two years—topped by an all-time high score in 2012. Analysts point to a large number of top-tier universities with research programs and cutting-edge science and tech firms as major contributors in Massachusetts. Continue reading →

Lab-grown kidneys closer to reality thanks to NIH funded research

A team of researchers from Research!America members Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital recently announced a major step forward in regenerative medicine: a working kidney has been grown in the laboratory. These findings and the hope they bring to thousands of Americans waiting for a kidney transplant would not have been possible without a significant investment in research by the National Institutes of Health, who funded this project. This research also would not have succeeded without the engineering and technology advances that created the specialized equipment that allowed for an entire organ to be grown in an incubator, pointing to a need to continue investing in these areas of research as we reach beyond the limits of our current technologies in biomedical research. Continue reading →

Health Economics Research: where social and medical sciences meet

How much financial benefit do we reap from biomedical research? What are the economic gains that result from introduction of new medications, changes to personal health behavior or reworking the Medicare and Medicaid health systems? These and other questions were discussed at a recent Capitol Hill briefing on health economics research co-sponsored by Academy Health, Research!America and other organizations. In an era of skyrocketing medical costs, this type of research can provide vital information to policy makers and health care providers to reign in the costs of healthcare without compromising the quality of patient care. Continue reading →

Guest post: The MIT Science Policy Initiative visits Capitol Hill to support the future of research & development in the US

MIT-Washington DC-2013

CVD 2013 student delegation at the Capitol;  Photo Credit: Charles Haynes

Amidst difficult budget negotiations on Capitol Hill, on March 12 and 13, MIT students and postdocs traveled to Washington to sound a warning about the future of science and engineering research in this country if indiscriminate cuts to federal programs continue.

In addition to mostly flat funding in recent budgets, language in the Budget Control Act of 2012 calling for across-the-board cuts—known as “sequestration”—took effect on March 1. These cuts, in addition to the ongoing erosion of federal funding for scientific research, decrease America’s ability to maintain economic growth and remain globally competitive, the 17-person delegation from MIT urged in meetings with Members of Congress and their staff. This funding crisis is creating fiscal shockwaves that will echo through the innovation system for years to come.
Continue reading →

Watch the Rally for Medical Research

Just because you’re not in Washington, DC doesn’t mean you can’t still watch the Rally for Medical Research! Cokie Roberts of National Public Radio will emcee the event featuring members of Congress, cancer survivors like actress Maura Tierney (ER, NewsRadio), leaders from the scientific community including NIH Director Francis Collins, MD, PhD, and  Research!America Chair, Hon. John Edward Porter.

Here’s the video:

Take a moment and contact your Congressperson and Senators today, tell them to make medical research a higher national priority!

Follow updates from the Rally on Twitter via @ResearchAmerica or #RallyMedRes.

President Obama announces BRAIN Initiative

President Barack Obama unveiled the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative on Tuesday. Described in a White House press release as one of the administration’s “Grand Challenges,” the goal of the initiative is to bring private and public sector research together to accelerate the development and application of technology and research into the function of complex neural networks. President Obama laid the ground work for today’s announcement during his State of the Union address in January, calling for an increased investment in research to achieve “a level of research and development not seen since the height of the space race.” Continue reading →