Category Archives: Research Investment/Funding

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Research!America: The good, the bad, and the ugly

Dear Research Advocate:

Congress continues to pay particular attention to – and make decisions bearing on – the pace of medical progress. To briefly count the ways:

The Senate Labor-HHS Appropriations subcommittee heard testimony yesterday from agency heads within HHS about the significance of health-related spending, including spending on medical and health research. Read our written testimony here.

Congressman Upton (R-MI-06), the Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee (which has jurisdiction over authorizing legislation for NIH, CDC, FDA and AHRQ) and Congresswoman Diana DeGette (D-CO-01), a member of the Committee, launched their 21st Century Cures initiative with a roundtable discussion focused on identifying what actions are necessary to maintain our nation’s place as the world’s innovation leader. While Reps. Upton and DeGette are champions of research who should be commended for working to strengthen U.S. medical innovation, there is always the risk that Congress will veer into micromanagement of NIH, stymie FDA’s efforts to ensure that private sector innovators are rewarded for ensuring the safety and efficacy of their medical advances, or “hold off” on providing the funding needed to accelerate medial progress until  longer-term strategies are in place. Your participation can help make this effort a success, and the initiative has established an email address you can use if you wish to give input: cures@mail.house.gov.

So that’s the good. Continue reading →

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Medical Progress NOW Day of Action is tomorrow!

medprRemember that all day tomorrow, Tuesday May 6, is a social media Day of Action in conjunction with the Medical Progress NOW campaign. Join us on Twitter (#medprogressnow) and Facebook as advocates from around the nation ask Congress to focus on what can be done this year to accelerate medical progress, first and foremost by committing to a meaningful increase in funding for the National Institutes of Health in the FY15 appropriations process.  Share personal stories, relevant data and compelling visuals to make the case that insufficient funding costs lives.  Congress has the power to get NIH funding back on track. Help convince them to do it.

And please spread the word and share the link to the Day of Action toolkit with your professional and social networks for more information and sample messages.

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Research!America: Rallying more defenders of science

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. Continue reading →

Statement by Research!America Chief Operating Officer Michael Coburn on Public Welfare Medal Recipient John E. Porter

Research!America salutes Board of Directors Chair John Edward Porter, the 2014 recipient of the Public Welfare Medal from the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), the Academy’s most prestigious award to honor the extraordinary use of science for the public good. Porter’s leadership in advocacy for research has strengthened our nation’s global competitiveness in science and technology and advanced medical innovation to new heights.  As chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, Porter demonstrated tremendous foresight, calling on policymakers to support robust investments in research to improve quality of life, combat debilitating and deadly diseases and stimulate private section innovation. With the doubling of the National Institutes of Health budget (FY99 – FY03), Porter helped usher in a new era of improved health and longevity for all Americans. A lifelong public servant, Porter continues to champion biomedical research in the U.S., urging researchers, patients and the public at large to become stronger advocates for science.  As an inspirational force in the scientific community, Porter joins a distinguished group of medal recipients who leave a strong legacy for future generations.

 

Will Medical Innovation Be an Afterthought This Election Season?

Excerpt of an op-ed by Research!America President and CEO Mary Woolley published in the Huffington Post.

mary-woolley-webLike it or not, we’re in the midst of another election season. As candidates embark on endless rounds of campaign activities to win the hearts and minds of voters, it’s critical that they not neglect, by choice or lack of awareness, a key issue that has tremendous implications for the health and prosperity of Americans: medical research and innovation.

Our nation’s research enterprise has endured years of flat federal funding and, more recently, sequestration, the destructive across-the-board federal spending cuts that began in 2013, as well as policies that slow rather than propel forward the pace of commercial innovation and drug development. Research projects are coming to a halt, patients are being denied access to clinical trials, research institutions across the country have reduced their workforce, young scientists are fleeing to other careers or other countries and local businesses that flourish in a research-rich environment are scaling back operations.

Ironically, given today’s unprecedented scientific opportunity, elected officials have not provided the resources it takes to capitalize on monies previously invested, forcing innovators to delay or abandon studies that could lead to new therapies and cures for insidious health threats such as Alzheimer’s, cancer and obesity. During this election season, as candidates answer questions and take positions intended to boost their chances at the polls, it is up to us who care about medical progress to ask candidates whether they perceive medical research as a top national priority.

Read the full op-ed here.

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Research!America: The time for medical progress is never later

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 ttassa@researchamerica.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.

Sincerely,

Mike Coburn

Tell Congress We Need Medical Progress NOW!

The price of wasted time is too high

The Fiscal Year 2015 Appropriations process marks a period of crucial decisions on how to fund America’s top priorities, including combating deadly and disabling disease.  The funding allocated to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), coupled with private-sector investment, saves young lives; empowers those with disabilities to maintain productive, fulfilling lives; and is an underappreciated force behind local and national economic growth, our national security and America’s status as a global economic and innovation leader.  Appropriators can act this year to restore NIH to a growth path consistent with the significance of medical progress to Americans and the level of scientific opportunity.

The NIH budget is lower today than it was in 2012.  How have we fallen so far behind?  Is it no longer important to conquer diseases that kill children, to do more for wounded warriors or to stop devastating conditions like Alzheimer’s and cancer?

Congress needs to do something NOW to make up for the massive gap between the funding needed to reignite medical progress and the minimal funding allocated to this priority over the last several years. Will funding for NIH receive a real funding boost in FY15 or will medical progress continue to lose ground?

We need Congress to accelerate medical progress, not in five or ten years, but now.  Tell Congress to treat medical progress like the American priority it is and give it the boost in funding for 2015 that it needs. 2012 is our past; 2015 is our future.  Let’s keep moving.  Medical progress NOW.

Take action now.

 

April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month

by Amy Comstock Rick, CEO of Parkinson’s Action Network

Amy Comstock Rick Headshot (2)April is now about halfway over but there is still plenty of time to help raise awareness for Parkinson’s disease and the millions affected.

Parkinson’s disease is a chronic, progressive neurological disorder and the second most prevalent degenerative neurological disease after Alzheimer’s. So far this year, people all over the country have honored loved ones with Parkinson’s disease by helping the Parkinson’s Action Network (PAN) and the other national Parkinson’s disease organizations spread awareness of the disease and its impact on our nation.

PAN, a nonprofit advocacy organization based in Washington, DC, would like thank the hundreds of grassroots advocates who have already asked their local and state governments to proclaim April as Parkinson’s Awareness Month. A sampling of all local proclamations can be found on the PAN website, and you can view images of our grassroots leaders receiving their proclamations from council members, mayors and governors around the country. PAN is also thrilled that our representatives in the U.S. Senate proclaimed April Parkinson’s Awareness Month.

So why is an awareness month important? Continue reading →

Medical and Health Research Matters


Watch backstage interviews with Research!America’s 2014 Advocacy Award winners talking about the importance of medical and health research to improve health and save lives.

“You don’t have to be a scientist in order to move mountains. People can advocate by running road races, by volunteering, by working towards legislation, it’s all essential, the science and all the rest of it. That’s the only way we are going to get to a point where we have a healthier nation in the future and it is doable,” said Leslie Gordon, MD, PhD, medical director of the Progeria Research Foundation, winner of the 2014 Paul G. Rogers Distinguished Organization Advocacy Award.  The other winners — Dr. Leroy Hood, Dr. Reed Tuckson, Kathy Giusti, Glenn Close, Reps. Frank Wolf and Chaka Fattah — also describe why it’s important for policy makers and the public to champion medical innovation.

The deadline for nominations for Research!America’s 2015 Advocacy Awards is May 23, 2014. Click here to submit nominations.

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Research!America: Are we on the right path to protecting innovation?

Dear Research Advocate:

The budget and appropriations process typically reveals stark differences in funding priorities among the two parties. And this year is no exception. House Budget Committee Ranking Member Chris Van Hollen (D-MD-08) introduced the Democrats’ 10-year budget plan this week, which stands apart from the Republican proposal introduced by Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI-01) most notably by ending sequestration. The Ryan budget, which won House approval today, is on its way to the Senate but is considered dead on arrival. Note that there’s still time to urge your Members of Congress to support medical and health research as this year’s appropriations process continues!

Teen “whiz kids” profiled in the latest issue of People magazine personify the future of science and medical innovation. Among them, Jack Andraka, who at age 15, created an affordable diagnostic test for pancreatic cancer that provides results in five minutes. He faced tremendous obstacles securing funding for his breakthrough innovation, a problem we see all too often in medical and health research. Such ingenuity propels our best and brightest to take risks but the funding to support their revolutionary ideas is not within their grasp.

Discussing these innovative projects with candidates and elected officials is key to elevating science and technology in the national conversation. In Research!America’s newly released poll data summary booklet, America Speaks, Volume 14, two-thirds of Americans (66%) say it’s important for candidates running for office to assign a high priority to funding medical research. Now is the time to ask future and returning Members of Congress if they believe that medical progress is a high national priority as part of our new national voter education initiative Ask Your Candidates!, which was formally launched this week. More details about America Speaks and the campaign can be found here. As the number of lawmakers with a background in science diminishes, it’s more important than ever to engage with your representatives. Michael S. Lubell writes in Roll Call that if we don’t elect a new scientist in the upcoming elections, it will mark a six-year decline from five to two Members of Congress who have a PhD in a natural science.

National Public Health Week, which wraps up tomorrow, provides another opportunity to engage policy makers about the benefits of health research. Don’t miss our recent blog post celebrating public health — an often underappreciated facet of our research ecosystem.

A new video highlighting backstage interviews with our 2014 Advocacy Award Winners illustrates the passion and drive of these extraordinary leaders who have contributed greatly to medical progress. We encourage you to nominate individuals and organizations whose leadership efforts have been notably effective in advancing our nation’s commitment to research for the 2015 Advocacy Awards.

As you’re aware, members of Research!America’s management team will guest-author this letter in Mary’s absence. This week’s author is Research!America’s vice president of communications, Suzanne Ffolkes.

Sincerely,

Suzanne Ffolkes

National Public Health Week

NPHWPublic health is the backbone of our society.  Without the contributions of public health initiatives, what new disease epidemic might we face and how many lives would be lost?  Successful public health programs depend on research, an often underappreciated facet of the system. By taking a critical look at the data and bringing the right programs to the right communities at the right time, research can target and increase the effectiveness of public health interventions.

This year, celebrate National Public Health Week by talking to your candidates for Congress.  Start a dialogue – tell them why research for medical progress and public health is important to you, and ask them where they stand.  You can send an email message to your candidate, send them a tweet (include the #AYCresearch hashtag) or attend a town hall near you and ask in person.  On Election Day, feel empowered to vote for the candidate who best reflects your priorities. If we don’t know where medical progress fits among the priorities of the people we elect, we will all pay the price.  Visit the Ask Your Candidates! website to learn more.

Few Americans Know Where Elected Officials and Candidates Stand on Government Support for Research and Innovation, New Polling Booklet Reveals

Research!America and partners launch national voter education initiative to elevate the priority of medical progress

ALEXANDRIA, Va.April 8, 2014—Two-thirds of Americans (66%) say it’s important for candidates running for office to assign a high priority to funding medical research, according to America Speaks, Volume 14, a compilation of key questions from public opinion polls commissioned by Research!America. Polling shows that Americans place a high value on U.S. leadership in medical innovation, yet only 12% say they are very well informed about the positions of their senators and representative when it comes to their support of medical and scientific research. www.researchamerica.org/poll_summary.

To help close this knowledge gap, Research!America and partner organizations are launching a national voter education initiative, Ask Your Candidates! Is Medical Research Progress a Priority? Through online and grassroots activities, social media strategies and on-the-ground events, congressional candidates will be urged to share their views on government policies and support for medical innovation conducted in both the public and private sectors. www.askyourcandidates.org.

“Candidates must do a better job articulating their vision for medical progress, clarifying what level of priority they assign to research as a way to assure improved health, well-being and economic security of all Americans,” said Mary Woolley, president and CEO of Research!America. “Voters need to know whether their candidates view lifesaving medical research as an imperative or an afterthought.”

During election season, Americans want candidates to talk about medical progress. Nearly three-quarters (74%) say it’s important to know whether their candidates for Congress are supportive of medical and scientific research. Notably, more than half of respondents (53%) do not believe elected officials in Washington are paying enough attention to combating the many deadly diseases that afflict Americans. Continue reading →

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Research!America: Talk is cheap; bipartisanship is priceless

Dear Research Advocate:

The doubling of the National Institutes of Health budget between FY99 and FY03 is an example of Congress at its most productive … and it hinged on bipartisanship. A small group of Republicans and Democrats recognized the power of medical progress, and they worked together to increase the budget baseline for NIH by nearly $11.5 billion. Without that doubling, and with the stagnation of virtually all non-defense discretionary funding that followed on its heels, which groundbreaking medical discoveries would still lie dormant? Which of those we hold dear would not be alive today?

Research!America Chair and former Congressman John Porter, who chaired the House Labor-HHS Appropriations Subcommittee, was one of a relatively small group of champions on that bipartisan team. On Monday, March 31, the National Institutes of Health held a dedication ceremony for the John Edward Porter Neuroscience Research Center. NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins, Senators Tom Harkin and Mark Kirk, renowned researchers and NIH alumni Dr. Gerald Fischbach and Dr. Steven Hyman, and other distinguished leaders paid tribute to Congressman Porter, acknowledging his staunch commitment to bipartisanship and his extraordinary contribution to advancing medical research. As Congressman Porter emphasized during his remarks, the two are not unrelated. The severe partisan divide in Congress has served to perpetuate the stagnation of NIH resources, both by compromising the deliberative process that is meant to inform the prioritization of appropriated dollars and by stymying tax and entitlement reform. Scientists must fight back, buoyed by the high esteem in which they are held by the public and armed with unique insights into the societal benefits of investing in research. View photos of the dedication ceremony here and our statement here. Continue reading →

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: The role of advocates in the appropriations process

Dear Research Advocate:

There is still time — if you act quickly — to urge your representative to sign on to the House letter authored by Representatives McKinley (R-WV-01), Davis (D-CA-53), Carson (D-IN-07) and King (R-NY-02) urging more support for NIH — it will be finalized by close of business today. A similar Senate letter, authored by Senators Casey (D-PA) and Burr (R-NC), will be finalized Tuesday, April 1; ask your senators to sign on today!

An appropriations mechanism known as a “tap” made the news Tuesday when, during a hearing on NIH, Members of Congress asked advocates questions about the use of a tap by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to move money from the NIH appropriation to fund the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) and for other uses. While it can sound as though HHS makes this allocation on its own initiative, actually it is the Appropriations Committee that has determined to fund AHRQ in this way, rather than funding it as an independent agency or otherwise. Bottom line, the funding mechanism isn’t what’s at issue here — the real question is whether AHRQ serves the interests of Americans. And it certainly does. As noted in our testimony submitted for the hearing at which the tap issue was raised, AHRQ supports lifesaving, quality and efficiency-enhancing health care research. Like NIH, AHRQ meets our nation’s need for basic non-commercial knowledge, while the private sector finances the critical, commercial R&D that brings final products to the market.

Continue reading →

Testimony to the House Appropriations Labor-HHS-Education subcommittee

On March 25, Research!America submitted testimony to the House Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and related agencies concerning FY15 appropriations for the National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality:

The National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) play pivotal roles in combating disabling and deadly health conditions. Moreover, the funding, or lack of it, allocated to these agencies will bear on our nation’s ability to compete in key export markets within the global economy, foster business development that grows and maintains jobs across the country, meet our solemn obligations to wounded warriors and support troops on the ground, combat deadly medical errors, and protect our nation against pandemics and emerging health threats. The stakes truly are that high.

Read the full testimony here.