Category Archives: Stem Cell Research

CU Scientists’ Discovery Could Lead to New Cancer Treatment

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blood cancer

The University of Colorado’s Gates Center for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Biology just announced a potentially game-changing discovery in stem cell research for blood cancers and a whole host of other diseases.

Yosef Refaeli and his research team have found a way to expand blood stem cells. This is big news because blood stem cells can help treat blood cancers like leukemia and lymphoma as well as inborn immunodeficiency diseases such as sickle-cell anemia and autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis. But up until now, treatment using blood stem cells has been limited by the number of cells a patient can produce. Hundreds of thousands of Americans could be affected by this discovery.

The research was supported in part by funding from the National Institutes of Health.

The goal now is to move the technology from the lab into clinical trials. Colorado-based biotech company Taiga Biotechnologies is in the process of setting up the trials.

The research was originally published in the academic journal PLOS ONE. Read the paper here.

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Meet the 2013 Stem Cell Action Award Winners

The Genetics Policy Institute, a Research!America member, will honor the 2013 winners of its Stem Cell Action Awards at the World Stem Cell Summit, which runs December 4-6 in San Diego.

The Leadership Award will be given to successful businessmen and noted philanthropists Denny Sanford and Malin Burnham. They are honorary trustees of the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, of course, but their philanthropy extends far beyond that one institution.

The National Advocacy Award will be given to stem cell researcher Paul Knoepfler, PhD, an assistant professor at the University of California, Davis. Knoepfler’s blog is a crucial resource for stem cell science and advocacy. (Research!America won the National Advocacy Award in 2011.)

The Education Award will be given to Mary Ann Leibert, president and CEO of the Mary Ann Leibert, Inc., which publishes more than 100 peer-reviewed journals in science and biomedical research. The company’s flagship publication, Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News (GEN), began in 1980 and is now recognized as an industry leader. Continue reading →

Researchers announce successful cloning of human stem cells

Photo © OHSU

A group of scientists at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) — a Research!America member — recently announced that it had successfully generated cloned embryonic stem cells from skin cells of an adult and an unfertilized human egg. Like other stem cell technologies, these cloned stem cells may one day be used for therapeutic purposes — replacing failed organs or damaged nerves.

Research into this area had been ongoing for several years; until now, scientists’ efforts were unsuccessful. Continue reading →

New research suggests patient’s fat cells could be used to kill brain cancer

Adipose- derived stem cells. Source: Pendleton, Li, et. al. Mesenchymal Stem Cells Derived from Adipose Tissue vs Bone Marrow:In Vitro Comparison of Their Tropism towards Gliomas.  2013. PLOSONE.

Adipose- derived stem cells. Source: Pendleton, Li, et. al. Mesenchymal Stem Cells Derived from Adipose Tissue vs Bone Marrow:In Vitro Comparison of Their Tropism towards Gliomas. 2013. PLOSONE.

Recent research from Johns Hopkins Medicine that received government support shows that stem cells isolated from a patient’s own fat may be able to deliver new treatments directly into the brain to fight an aggressive brain tumor. The work, done in the laboratory of Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa, MD, is a proof-of-principle study that tests the ability of a particular type of stem cell, mesenchymal stem cells, to locate damaged or cancerous cells.

Cancer cells, particularly those in glioblastomas, the most common type of brain tumor, often break away from the main tumor and relocate to another area of the body.  While neurosurgeons like Quinones-Hinojosa can carefully remove these tumors, radiation and chemotherapy are often insufficient to kill these run-away cancer cells. The promising results from this basic science study suggest that in the future, mesenchymal stem cells isolated from the patient’s own fat tissue can be modified and put back into the body to seek out and destroy isolated cancer cells in the brain after surgical removal of the tumor. Continue reading →

Research!America’s Advocacy Awards are tonight!

Research!America will honor extraordinary leaders in biomedical and health research advocacy at the 17th Annual Advocacy Awards tonight, March 13, at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington, DC. This year’s Advocacy Award Winners are: Sens. Richard Burr (R-NC) and Bob Casey (D-PA); Diane Rehm, author and host of WAMU 88.5 and NPR’s “The Diane Rehm Show”; John F. Crowley, patient advocate, inspirational entrepreneur, and chairman and CEO of Amicus Therapeutics, Inc.; John Mendelsohn, MD, director, Khalifa Institute for Personalized Cancer Therapy and former president of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center; Mark Rosenberg, MD, president and CEO, The Task Force for Global Health; and the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM).

“The leadership demonstrated by this year’s award recipients has inspired others to push boundaries to improve the health of Americans and maintain our competitive edge in science and innovation,” said Mary Woolley, president and CEO of Research!America. “As advocates, they have contributed significantly to making biomedical and health research a higher national priority.”

Follow Research!America on Twitter (@researchamerica) and visit our Facebook page to get more information about tonight’s event. Look for photos of the Awards Dinner on our Flickr account and video clips on our YouTube page in the coming days.

For more information about the honorees, visit www.researchamerica.org/advocacy_awards and read our latest press release. You can also follow news updates from our honorees. Read Senator Burr’s blog and news from Senator Casey; visit The Diane Rehm Show’s Facebook page; don’t miss the Crowley family’s website and Amicus Therapeutics news; keep up with news about Mendelsohn and the Institute for Personalized Cancer Therapy; Rosenberg and the Task Force for Global Health’s online news room is full of great information; and don’t miss CIRM’s blog.

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: First 100 Days

Dear Research Advocate,

With all the conversation about the debt ceiling and tax and entitlement reform, it may surprise you to know that an additional topic is on many minds. A wide majority of Americans, 72%, say the new Congress and the president should take action to expand medical research within the first 100 days of the new legislative session. See this and more in America Speaks, Volume 13, a compilation of national poll data providing insights into public sentiment on key research-related issues. See our press release and download the full Poll Data Summary. These polling results are designed to be used in your advocacy and outreach!

Among the growing number of issues that need to be resolved by the new Congress is the medical device tax, which could send research jobs overseas and shrink a critical segment of our innovation economy. In The Hill, Rep. Bob Latta (R-OH) writes about the consequences the tax could have on the medical device industry, including the possibility of a massive decline in R&D investment. As our economy recovers, policy makers must better incentivize R&D investment to keep our nation competitive and ensure that companies are continuing to invest in life-saving research.

More on the first 100 days: As you know, the sequestration deadline has been moved two months, with another delay possible, and there is talk of other cuts to discretionary spending. The delay is terribly frustrating for those planning research investment and sends a very negative message to young scientists planning a career, but it does buy us more time to make our case. The Washington Post published an op-ed by three Washington, DC, institutional members of Research!America that argues compellingly for such funding. Take action now and do two things — collaborate with your local colleagues to write an op-ed for a local publication and send an email to your representatives. Tailor the alert we provide to let them know how cuts could affect your institution and your community.

For those of you in Georgia, the appointment of Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA) as chairman of the committee that allocates most of the federal funding for biomedical and health research funding presents an important advocacy opportunity. Research!America is helping to facilitate collective action by Georgia institutions, and we would welcome your participation. Please contact Max Bronstein, director of science policy, if you haven’t heard from us yet! Recently, I had the opportunity to discuss Rep. Kingston’s record and prospects for the 113th Congress with Randy Barrett of the ScienceInsider.

Great news! The U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision on behalf of patients and stem cell researchers, effectively bringing to a close the infamous Sherley v. Sebelius case that threatened federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. This decision marks a major victory for the stem cell research cause, but it is critical that all of us remain vigilant; actions at the state level could still curtail embryonic stem cell research. View our press statement on the decision and our updated resource page on stem cell research. We will be talking about the importance of stem cell research when we honor the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) at our upcoming Advocacy Awards dinner. See more about this March 13, 2013, event here.

Sincerely,

Mary Woolley

Research!America President and CEO Mary Woolley Applauds Supreme Court’s Dismissal of Embryonic Stem Cell Case

January 9, 2013

The U.S. Supreme Court’s dismissal of Sherley v. Sebelius, a case intended to block federal funding for scientists conducting embryonic stem cell research, is a victory for patients and the research community. This key decision will allow the continuation of federal funding from the National Institutes of Health, providing essential support for scientists to conduct lifesaving research. Embryonic stem cells, which can repair or replace damaged tissue and organs, have advanced research aimed at finding cures and therapies to treat a wide variety of diseases and disorders including vision impairment, spinal cord injuries, and multiple sclerosis.  Clinical trials have also shown promising therapeutic applications to help fight cancer, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes and other disabling illnesses. We applaud the ruling and will continue to support such innovative research that could save millions of lives.

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Supreme Court Rejects Request to Ban Federally Funded ESCR

The U.S. Supreme Court announced Monday that it would not hear a case that challenged the legality of federally funded human embryonic stem cell research.

The case, Sherley v. Sebelius, was brought by two researchers of induced pluripotent stem cells, James Sherley, MD, PhD, and Theresa Deisher, PhD in 2009. They argued that guidelines concerning government funding of hESC, adopted by the Obama administration, were in violation of the 1996 Dickey-Wicker Amendment. The amendment forbids the Department of Health and Human Services — including the National Institutes of Health — from using appropriated funds to either create embryos for research purposes or conduct research in which embryos are destroyed.

After an initial ruling in 2010 in favor of the plaintiffs, an injunction was issued that allowed research to continue. Eventually, both the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit found in favor of the government. The plaintiffs appealed the case to the Supreme Court, which declined to hear the case and offered no further comment in Monday’s order.

Stem cell research advocates were pleased with the ruling.

“This is a major victory for scientifically and ethically responsible innovative research,” Bernard Siegel, spokesperson for the Stem Cell Action Coalition and executive director of the Genetics Policy Institute, said in a statement. “With the cloud of this case lifted, researchers can now rest assured that the challenge to the NIH’s 2009 guidelines for funding for embryonic stem cell research is over. Patients and their advocates can now rejoice that this potentially life-saving research can proceed at the federal level.”

The ruling is “a victory for scientists, patients and the entire biomedical research community. Science can now continue to move forward, knowing the threat to promising research and funding has been eliminated,” said Amy Comstock Rick, president of the Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research, according to ScienceInsider.

In a statement, NIH Director Francis Collins, MD, PhD, reaffirmed the agency’s dedication to ESCR.

“I am very pleased with today’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to decline to review the Sherley v. Sebelius U.S. Court of Appeals ruling. This decision allows the ruling to stand, and enables NIH to continue conducting and funding stem cell research, following the strict ethical guidelines put in place in 2009. Patients and their families who look forward to new therapies to replace cells lost by disease or injury, or who may benefit from new drugs identified by screening using stem cells, should be reassured that NIH will continue supporting this promising research.”

Statement from Research!America Chair John Edward Porter and CEO Mary Woolley on Passing of Senator Arlen Specter

We extend our deepest condolences to Senator Arlen Specter’s family, friends and colleagues as they mourn the passing of a loved and respected statesman and a true champion of medical research.  Specter’s leadership in generating critical support for medical and health research is a testament to his dedication to improving the health of all Americans and securing our position as a global leader in science and innovation.  As a congressional leader, Specter played a pivotal role in the doubling of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) budget over five years and two Administrations and in 2009 assured that funding for the NIH and other health agencies were included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  He was also a stalwart advocate for embryonic stem cell research and worked to secure U.S. funding for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.  Research!America was proud to honor Specter with our rarely-awarded Legacy Award in 2009 for his noteworthy contributions and the Edwin C. Whitehead Award for Medical Research Advocacy in 2000. His remarkable achievements as an advocate for scientific discovery will be long remembered and greatly appreciated by future generations.

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: Reading Between the Lines, part 2

Dear Research Advocate,

In last week’s letter, I highlighted research-related themes in the Republican National Platform. The good news included explicit support for basic and applied research and a pledge to make the R&D tax credit permanent. The bad news included strident criticism of FDA — such that support for adequate funding was unclear — and opposition to embryonic stem cell research. The Democratic platform asserts that Democrats will “double funding for key basic research agencies.” It also goes further than the Republican platform in improving the research and development tax credit and places a very strong emphasis on science education as critical to our innovation economy. And, it reiterates Democratic support for embryonic stem cell research.

Do platforms matter? Yes and no. Yes, in that the language comes from a broad base of each party’s membership. It lays out principles that we can ask policy makers to adhere to, and we can see how well those principles track with the polls we regularly commission. But also no — as a respected Nobel laureate reminded me in an insightful response to my last letter, it is a mistake to breathe easy based on the rhetoric in these platforms. Actions speak louder than words, and the fact is Republicans and Democrats alike supported the Budget Control Act (BCA), which not only applies across-the-board cuts to research spending but also tightly restrains annual growth in discretionary spending. That makes it difficult to envision any kind of “moonshot” for research or even a basic policy frame that truly promotes research and innovation. Despite what these platforms assert, policy makers have taken their eye off the ball. The public is not happy about that fact. Our new polling data shows that only 19% of likely voters believe elected officials are paying enough attention to combating disease. For more on this point, see my piece this week in The Hill’s Congress Blog. It ends with a call to action to engage the candidates — you can lead the way in doing just that among your network of colleagues, family and friends.

In case you missed it, a U.S. appeals court has upheld the legality of federal funding for embryonic stem cell research — a major victory for advocates and patients alike. See this recent ScienceInsider article to learn more about the ruling.

In past letters, I’ve written extensively about the grave threat that sequester poses to American research and innovation, and the news seems to be getting worse. According to the Alliance for a Stronger FDA, the user fees that FDA collects for review of drugs and devices may be subject to sequestration in addition to the funding provided through taxes. In effect, the FDA budget would be double-slashed with cuts totaling $294 million! Just imagine the havoc that these cuts would wreak on our nation’s ability to bring new, critical treatments to patients. With Congress reconvening next week, please remind lawmakers that they are playing with fire. Research is important. Innovation is important. Blind, across-the board funding cuts aren’t just an abdication of congressional responsibility, they are a divestment in medical and economic progress.

Sincerely,

Mary Woolley

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: Reading between the Lines and then Taking Action

Dear Research Advocate,

As you know, the Republican Party Platform was unveiled Tuesday during the convention in Tampa. There are direct references to medical and health research and other statements that — if not explicit — definitely imply the need for such research. We can draw from both to enhance our advocacy efforts.

The following exemplifies the direct and indirect nature of the platform’s embrace of medical and health research:

“We support federal investment in health care delivery systems and solutions creating innovative means to provide greater, more cost-effective access to high quality health care. We also support federal investment in basic and applied biomedical research, especially the neuroscience research that may hold great potential for dealing with diseases and disorders such as autism, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. If we are to make significant headway against breast and prostate cancer, diabetes and other killers, research must consider the special needs of formerly neglected groups.”

The platform explicitly supports federal funding for basic and applied medical research, and, if I am interpreting the text correctly, acknowledges the need to address health disparities as part of the nation’s research agenda. This statement also implies the need for health services research (HSR) to devise “solutions” that improve health care access, cost-effectiveness and quality. Unfortunately the House Labor-H appropriations bill precludes NIH funding for health economics research — a key subset of HSR — and virtually zeroes out the budget of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the main funder of HSR. The platform provides advocates fresh talking points as final appropriations decisions are made later this year.

The Republican platform also states: “Even expensive prevention is preferable to more costly treatment later on.” While the rest of the statement focuses on personal responsibility, research plays an undeniable role in effective prevention. Vaccines, the nicotine patch, successful drug and alcohol addiction treatment programs … all are grounded in research. Advocates can segue directly from the platform to the importance of prevention research at CDC and other agencies … and we should. Three other sections of the platform are noteworthy. It goes hard on the FDA, asserting that it needs significant reform. The platform does not mention funding, but there is a logical connection here. Patient groups, scientists, industry and FDA leaders themselves are all committed to strengthening the agency and are working hard to accomplish just that. Support for FDA reform cannot logically be decoupled from support for FDA funding, a point that must not get lost in the reform debate.

Second, the platform advocates making the R&D tax credit permanent. Bravo!  We should increase and make other improvements to the credit as well.

Finally, the platform opposes embryonic stem cell research. Not a surprise, but a disappointment.  Proponents must keep fighting this battle, drawing strength from the recent court victory in which President Obama’s executive order was once again upheld.

There is much to applaud in the Republican platform when it comes to federal support for both medical and health research. Let’s take that and run with it. In an article that appeared this week in Forbes, John Zogby discusses the results of our recent national poll. He focuses on the exceptional level of agreement between different demographic and ideological subsets of the American population on issues related to health and medical research. We see that reality reflected in many of the planks in the Republican platform. Indeed most of the results from our poll will not surprise you (except, perhaps, the fact that a majority of Americans of all stripes would pay a dollar more per week in taxes if they knew it was going toward medical research), but it’s a fact that most policy makers have not embraced medical progress as a goal worthy of mentioning in campaign speeches or on their campaign websites. Platforms aside, this gives Americans no basis by which to evaluate whether individual candidates will champion or chop research funding and no assurance that they will take medical innovation into account when evaluating policy decisions that could stimulate or stifle it. Your Candidates-Your Health is an important way that candidates can make their opinions known about medical and health research. Advocates can do their part by attending town halls, visiting campaign offices, writing op-eds and letters to the editor, and using these polling results to convince candidates that promoting medical progress should be one of their core missions.

We have our work cut out for us, but we will succeed if we do more than parse the rhetoric — we have to take action!

Sincerely,

Mary Woolley

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: Turn up the Volume on Sequester

Dear Research Advocate,

As the political conventions get underway, we have further evidence that voters want candidates to make research for health a prominent issue, now and after the election.  Our latest national public opinion poll, conducted a week ago, shows voters want to elect candidates who value and highly prioritize the importance of medical progress. Among the highlights: 90% say it’s important for candidates to address medical research; 59% say elected officials in Washington are not paying enough attention to combating deadly diseases, so much so that 63% say the next president should announce initiatives promoting medical progress in his “first 100 days in office.” And the media is taking notice, with articles covering our new poll in POLITICO Pro, Business Insider, The Hill and Roll Call. Clearly, voters will support candidates who share their commitment to research for health.

In case you missed it, our Your Candidates – Your Health initiative was featured in an advertisement in USA TODAY. If you haven’t already, please reach out to your representatives and feel free to cite the recent ad as another reason for them to participate in the initiative. You can also use our Grassroots Guide to activate your networks via social media or raise awareness with a letter-to-the editor or op-ed.

In past letters, I’ve written extensively about the sequester and its implications for research, yet I am hearing reports that many research stakeholders are just now learning about the seriousness that this threat poses. If we are to effectively fight the sequester, we must ensure that all research stakeholders and the public at large are informed about this issue. The American Chemical Society has produced an excellent video outlining the origins and implications of sequester. We also saw a heartfelt letter to the editor in the Hattiesburg American written from the perspective of a mother, whose son is alive today because of investments in medical research. InsideHealthPolicy.com (subscription only) published a story about how the biomedical research community is uniting to stop the sequester, drawing on one of our statements. In The News & Observer, E. Wayne Holden, CEO of RTI International and Research!America member, writes about the need to reduce the deficit while maintaining our investments in basic and applied research. Nightly Business Report also picked up the story, in a segment emphasizing the impact on NIH and medical research.

As part of our ongoing efforts to convey to Congress the value of investing in research, we’ve just released a new fact sheet – Genomics Research: Transforming Health and Powering the Bioeconomy. This document demonstrates the immense return on investment from the Human Genome Project and features survivor stories that showcase how cutting-edge sequencing technology can save and improve lives. As a member of Research!America, use our fact sheets to convey that research is vital to our quality of life, our economic progress, and our nation’s future. As always, let us know how we can help.

Sincerely,

Mary Woolley

Research!America Press Release: Likely Voters Say President’s “First 100 Days in Office” Should Include Plans for Promoting Medical Progress

As Political Conventions Begin, Voters say it’s Important for Candidates to Address Medical Research

WASHINGTON—August 22, 2012— On the eve of the political conventions, nearly two-thirds of likely voters say the next president should announce initiatives promoting medical progress during his “first 100 days in office,” according to a new national public opinion poll commissioned by Research!America.  And nearly three-quarters of those polled say it’s important for candidates for the presidency and Congress to have a science advisor.  The findings reveal deep concerns among voters about the lack of attention candidates and elected officials have assigned to research.

“Research and innovation, despite its contributions to the nation’s health and the economy, has been given short-shrift by candidates this year – even as funding for research is at high risk in budget discussions,” said Mary Woolley, president and CEO of Research!America. “This is troubling given the fact that deep spending cuts for government supported research and failure to adopt policies promoting competitiveness could drastically slow the pace of discovery and development at a time when health threats are expanding in many communities.”

Nearly 60 percent of likely voters say elected officials in Washington are not paying enough attention to combating the many deadly diseases that afflict Americans. An overwhelming majority of voters (90%) say it is important for candidates to address medical and health research this year. With concern about health care costs rising, 77% of likely voters say the federal government should fund research to make the health care system more efficient and effective. And despite the tough economy, more than half (53%) are willing to pay $1 per week more in taxes if they were certain that all of the money would be spent for additional research.

“Americans get the importance of medical research.  Without a strong investment in research, we can’t combat disease, we can’t reduce exploding health care costs and we can’t balance our budget,” added Woolley.

Poll highlights include:

  • 68% believe the federal government should increase support for scientific research that advances the frontiers of knowledge and supports private sector innovation.
  • 60% say medical progress will slip in the U.S. if another country takes the lead in science, technology and medical innovation.
  • 66% say their quality of life has been improved by medical research over last decade.
  • 61% favor expanding federal funding for research using embryonic stem cells.
  • Only 15% know that medical research in the U.S. is conducted in every state.

To view the poll, visit: www.researchamerica.org/nationalpoll2012

Research!America’s national voter education initiative Your Candidates-Your Health, invites candidates for the presidency and Congress to state their views on medical research and related issues.  The brief questionnaire can be found at www.yourcandidatesyourhealth.org.

The National Public Opinion Pollwas conducted online in August 2012 by JZ Analytics for Research!America. The poll has a sample size of 1,052 likely U.S. voters with a theoretical sampling error of +/- 3.1%.

About us: Research!America is the nation’s largest nonprofit public education and advocacy alliance working to make research to improve health a higher national priority. Founded in 1989, Research!America is supported by member organizations that represent the voices of 125 million Americans. Visit www.researchamerica.org.

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A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: Romney adds Ryan and healthcare to election conversation

Dear Research Advocate,

With Rep. Paul Ryan joining the Romney ticket, health is back on the national agenda. Partisan politics aside, this conversation is overdue, since health is indeed an issue that will make or bankrupt us. Research has always figured prominently in the wellbeing of Americans and America – research brought an end to the polio epidemic, which could have bankrupted the nation in the 1950s, and research is the only answer to the scourge of Alzheimer’s that threatens health, quality of life and our national checkbook today. And that is just a starting point for the conversation I hope you are having with everyone who wants to talk about the election. Take the opportunity to bridge from health care to health research and remind Americans that research must be a higher priority. As Research!America Chair and former Congressman John Porter has said, “Priorities will be chosen, and money will be spent.” Let’s make sure health research is a top priority.

How much do we know about Rep. Paul Ryan’s position on our issues? One place to start is with Rep. Paul Ryan’s response to our Your Congress – Your Health questionnaire of 2007. In his responses, Rep. Ryan calls for increasing NIH funding and endorses the importance of STEM education, although not federal support for stem cell research. Obviously, the political and fiscal climate has shifted dramatically since 2007, and the “Ryan budget” passed earlier this year by the House could deprive discretionary programs of funding vital to research, (see my comment in Medpage Today).  

The case for research today is in fact stronger than it was five years ago. The Wall Street Journal has published an op-ed by two Nobel laureates, providing a clear and compelling case for the government’s role in fostering basic research — and including research in economics — yielding huge dividends for our health and economy as a whole. Dr. Peter Kohler, Vice Chancellor at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences has published a piece carrying an equally compelling message in the NWAonline and a terrific op-ed has appeared in the Press Democrat by Dr. Dennis Mangan, a former NIH program director now working as a science communication advisor in Santa Rosa, CA. It would be a privilege to work with you on your own op-ed or letter to the editor making the case for policies that promote continued medical progress.

In past letters, I’ve written about the sequester and its potential for gutting funding for health research. The Coalition for Health Funding, of which Research!America is a member, has released a grassroots toolkit to educate and equip advocates to fight the sequester. Please circulate these tools to your networks and make sure that we stand together against the sequester. Make it a point to engage with candidates while they are campaigning around the nation this month.

Sincerely,

Mary Woolley

Research!America Press Release: Maintaining the Momentum of Medical Progress a Low Priority in Many Congressional Campaigns

WASHINGTON—August 7, 2012 —Research!America, a nonprofit advocacy alliance, says too many congressional candidates are minimizing the importance of our nation’s faltering role in fighting deadly and disabling diseases as a campaign issue. Polling indicates that Americans rank medical research a high priority but also shows a majority of likely voters are not aware of their representatives’ views on research.

Some candidates have indicated that they “don’t have time” to fill out a short questionnaire gauging their views on the importance of continued medical progress. Research!America and its partner organizations are calling on candidates to elevate the fight to save lives in their campaigns by participating in the national voter education initiative Your Candidates-Your Health, www.yourcandidatesyourhealth.org.

The brief questionnaire focuses on the nation’s investment in research and prevention; research as an economic driver; stem cell research; science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education; and other related issues.

“The idea that candidates ’don’t have time‘ to address an issue that literally has life or death consequences for millions of Americans is truly disturbing,” said Mary Woolley, president and CEO of Research!America. “Federally funded medical research is the catalyst to new, homegrown businesses in research and manufacturing in an economy that clearly needs both. Voters deserve to know where the candidates stand particularly when funding for research is on a downward slope, young scientists are discouraged about their future, and other countries are dramatically boosting their investments in research and development.”

In July, the House Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee approved a bill that flat-funds the National Institutes of Health, eliminates the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and cuts funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by 10% in FY13. In addition, funding for federal health agencies is at risk under sequestration – automatic spending cuts to take effect in January 2013.

Deep spending cuts would have a crippling effect on research conducted by universities, academic health centers and independent research institutions across the country. According to the CDC, approximately 50,000 Americans die monthly of heart disease, more than 47,000 of cancer, nearly 11,000 of stroke, more than 6,000 of Alzheimer’s disease, and more than 5,000 of diabetes.

To date, President Barack Obama and dozens of congressional candidates, including incumbents from both parties, have responded to the Your Candidates-Your Health questionnaire. Gov. Mitt Romney has yet to respond. To learn more about the survey and view the responses of candidates, visit www.yourcandidatesyourhealth.org.

Research!America is the nation’s largest nonprofit public education and advocacy alliance working to make research to improve health a higher national priority. Founded in 1989, Research!America is supported by member organizations that represent the voices of 125 million Americans. Visit www.researchamerica.org.