Tag Archives: biomedical research

Cuts to NIH research squeezes young scientists out

Op-ed by Abigail Schindler, PhD, postdoctoral fellow at the University of Washington, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and co-leader of the Seattle Forum on Science Ethics and Policy published in The Seattle Times.

Abigail1When I think about not being a scientist anymore my heart hurts. But sadly, due to continued budget cuts to biomedical research, within the next few years that is most likely exactly what I will be — no longer a scientist, no longer a researcher searching for cures for disease.

And I am not alone. The number of young scientists being forced out of basic biomedical research in the United States is increasing at an alarming rate, and when this next generation of scientists leaves, it is not coming back.

Like me, these are early career scientists trained in the United States by U.S. tax dollars. We are scientists whose life goal has been to one day have our own research program at an academic institution committed to the search for breakthroughs and cures. Yet because of these budget cuts, catchphrases such as the “brain drain” are proving true. This is a bad omen for U.S. global leadership in biomedical research and the future health and wellness of our nation.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is the nation’s premier biomedical research agency and the leading supporter of biomedical research in the world. Despite numerous public polls showing strong support among Americans for government funding of basic biomedical research, NIH’s budget was cut by $1.5 billion this year, or 5 percent, from $31 billion. Continue reading →

Advocacy Opportunities at 40,000 Feet

By William (Bill) R. Brinkley, Ph.D., TAMEST’s 2012 President

Brinkley 2012 PresidentSometimes you find luck sitting by your side at the most opportune of moments.  For example, what would you do if you suddenly found yourself seated next to a key member of the U.S. Congress on a two and a half hour flight to Washington, D.C.?  Be prepared, it could happen to you!

If you are a frequent traveler like me, you probably prefer to read, daydream or sleep on most flights.  But what would you do if you suddenly recognized that your seat mate was a VIP—say, a key member of the U.S. Senate or House of Representatives?  You might recognize it as a terrific opportunity to put in a good word for particular issues of great importance to you or society.  Say for instance, an increase in funding for biomedical research or pending legislation for another cause that might impact your future and that of your co-workers and colleagues.

This actually happened to me a few years ago as a biomedical researcher and president of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) advocating for a campaign to double the funding of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).   At the time, I was traveling to Washington, D.C. frequently to visit key members of the legislature to encourage support for the “doubling” as it came to be known.  One key member of the House of Representatives, Congressman Tom DeLay was thought to be a hopeless holdout—but a key individual to get on our side.  As the Majority Whip, DeLay earned the nickname “The Hammer” for his enforcement of party discipline in close votes and his reputation for wreaking political vengeance on opponents. After making numerous unsuccessful attempts to get an audience with DeLay, I finally gave up! Continue reading →

Canada’s Research Funding Also Facing Cut Backs

Alan I. Leshner, PhD

Alan I. Leshner, PhD

In a recent op-ed published in the Toronto Star Dr. Alan Leshner, Research!America board member, writes that federal deficits in the United States and Canada “pose a significant threat” to basic research.

He notes that “some policy-makers seem to value near-term, industry-focused science more highly.” But adds that basic science has larger potential payoffs than applied research. “The most well-known example of life-changing basic research is of course Sir Alexander Fleming’s accidental 1928 discovery of a mould (penicillin) that seemed to repel bacteria. German physicist Wilhelm Röntgen’s 19th century efforts to pass cathode rays through glass now allows doctors to see inside the human body without surgery, using X-rays. More recently, a $250,000 study on “the sex life of the screwworm” — a title that prompted the late U.S. senator William Proxmire to mock efforts to better understand a lethal livestock pest — has so far saved the U.S. cattle industry more than $20 billion.” Continue reading →

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: No rest during “recess”!

Dear Research Advocate:

Yesterday, President Obama tweeted about the effects of sequestration on medical research. From @barackobama, “The #sequester is slowing the pace of medical research, delaying the discovery of cures and treatments. Read more.” It is terrific that the president is helping drive increased attention to medical research. Our thanks to him and also to all who have joined our Memorial Day recess week of social media advocacy. The American Heart Association posted this great image to its Facebook page; we also thank Society for Neuroscience, BIO, The Endocrine Society, Melanoma Research Alliance, University of Maryland School of Medicine, CURE Epilepsy and UPenn Science Policy — among many others — who have participated. Now it’s your turn; let’s kick this campaign into high gear as we wrap up the week!

We know from our regularly commissioned polls that Americans value the work of our taxpayer-supported health agencies. In a recent Gallup poll, the CDC received the best reviews among 10 federal agencies surveyed. Take advantage of this news hook to translate public support into policy-maker action. CDC funding has been subjected to budget cut after budget cut, compromising the agency’s ability to safeguard the health of Americans against pandemics, bioterrorism, drug-resistant strains of infectious disease, and other predictable and unpredictable public health threats. Everyday Americans appear to value CDC more than our policy makers do. Tell your elected representatives: Let’s get past this disconnect; stand up for the CDC.

Research!America has been highlighting the importance of tackling global killers like HIV/AIDS, malaria, TB and neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) during USAID’s Global Health Month. Elected officials and the policy media are often surprised to learn that global health research and development is an integral part of the public and private sector-funded research enterprise in this country. The National Law Review’s coverage (article) of global health has highlighted Research!America’s Top 10 Reasons Why the U.S. Should Invest in Global Health Research & Development. Check it out, and if it whets your appetite for more, take a look at our video about NTDs. Typically not thought of as a problem in the U.S., NTDs are now a significant threat here. We simply must put research to work to stay ahead of the curve — to help our international friends and to maintain health and prosperity at home.

Sincerely,

Mary Woolley

Research into rare premature aging disorder praised as a model of “what’s right” in biomedical research

Recently, a group of scientists, clinicians and patients gathered in a suburb of Washington, DC to discuss scientific progress in the study of a rare premature aging disorder. This disease, Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome—often referred to as HGPS or simply progeria—is one you may not have heard of, yet. But the Progeria Research Foundation and families of progeria patients have been working hard to increase awareness and raise funds for research into this rare disease that results in death at an average age of only 13. Among the list of speakers at the conference was the Director of the National Institutes of Health, Francis Collins, MD, PhD and researchers from a number of Research!America member organizations. 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 →

Supreme Court hears arguments on case with far-reaching implications for genetic research

The much-contested question of whether or not a gene can be patented is under judicial scrutiny once again. The U.S. Supreme Court listened to oral arguments today regarding Myriad Genetic’s patent of two genes, BRCA1 and BRCA2, which have been linked to increased cancer risk in both women and men.  The American Civil Liberties Union is challenging this patent on behalf of a group of researchers, medical groups and patients. The timing of the hearing is rather serendipitous, just one day after the 10th anniversary of the completion of the Human Genome Project. The Human Genome Project, a jointly funded venture from the Department of Energy and the National Institutes of Health, has opened the door to a wide array of genetic tests and targeted interventions. Continue reading →

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: We can’t let up now

Dear Research Advocate,

Glimmers of hope can be found in the dire funding situation we face under sequestration. The continuing resolution (C.R.) funding the government through the end of the fiscal year (September 30) included very small increases for NIH, CDC, NSF and FDA; AHRQ was flat funded. But the fact remains that these increases were overwhelmed by the effect of sequestration, which remains in place and will continue to weigh us down for 10 years unless overturned. Our champions in Congress are speaking out and taking a stand on behalf of research as the budget negotiation proceeds. Reps. McKinley (R-WV) and Markey (D-MA) have co-authored a letter to House appropriators calling for $32 billion for NIH in FY14, a $1.5 billion increase. Take action right away and urge your representatives to sign on! Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) delivered a powerful floor speech highlighting the bipartisan importance of investing in NIH. In the Senate, Sens. Durbin, Mikulski, Moran and Cardin sponsored an amendment to the budget resolution calling for increased investment for biomedical research at the NIH. While this move is largely symbolic, it demonstrates the level of bipartisan commitment of our champions. You can view Senator Durbin’s statement here as well as the Research!America statement. And special thanks are due to Senator Harkin for his effort to provide NIH with a $244 million increase as part of the C.R. His sustained leadership has helped in so many ways to sustain NIH through good times and bad. Read our statement on his amendment here.

Congress is on recess and getting an earful from their constituents. A new public opinion poll shows that people are extremely angry at Congress but don’t see that sequestration is going to be a problem. That’s why it’s important to connect the dots. Hooray for a flurry of articles published in newspapers in Baltimore, Lancaster (PA), Los Angeles and Seattle —all emphasizing the damage being done by sequestration. More are called for! In a pulling-no-punches editorial in Science, Dr. Bruce Alberts lays out his concerns for the future of research, a future that is closely linked to the decisions our elected officials will make over the coming months. He invites responses; you can weigh in.

Many of you may be aware of our upcoming panel discussion on April 8 — Conquering Pain & Fighting Addiction: Policy Imperatives to Combat a Growing Health Crisis — featuring thought leaders on issues relating to pain and addiction. This a critical topic of growing national importance with a major role for research — I hope you can join us. Register here. Earlier in the day, the entire staff of Research!America will join tens of thousands of advocates at the Rally for Medical Research on the steps of the Carnegie Library in Washington, DC. Let’s all join forces that day to drive home the message that research must be a higher national priority.

Sincerely,

Mary Woolley

Updated: Sequestration impact on federally funded research programs

Just released data from the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) details the final amount to be cut from federal research program budgets as sequestration goes into effect. The full details are available on the updated Research!America sequestration fact sheet, though previous projections were relatively accurate as compared to these final numbers.

Cuts to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration will be higher than previously expected, with a combined loss of $593 million dollars for FY13. That amount is roughly equivalent to ensuring the safety of new medical and biological products at the FDA and programs that focus on prevention of HIV/AIDS at CDC. The National Institutes of Health will lose more than $1.5 billion this year alone, enough to fund three major research programs at the National Cancer Institute. The National Science Foundation will lose $290 million, an amount that would almost fully fund the NSF budget for materials research, which includes studies on biomaterials and metallic nanostructures.

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: SOTU and – now what??

Dear Research Advocate,

Setting a breathtaking goal for Congress and the nation, the president called for returning our nation to levels of R&D investment not seen since the height of the space race in his State of the Union address Tuesday evening. He spoke of the potential to defeat Alzheimer’s and to assure an “AIDS-free generation”; and he used the human genome project to illustrate the economic as well as human return on taxpayer investment in research. We were thrilled that the president listed medical research among the nation’s top priorities – along with defense, education and energy – right at the beginning of his speech, when he described the devastating damage that sequestration would do to the things the nation values most. This is, I think, an indication that the hard work of the research advocacy community in driving our research-as-a-priority message is paying off, just as we saw in media coverage of the Save Research advocacy campaign we launched after the election with many of our partners in advocacy. Our voices are being heard! It is time to thank the president, and it’s also time to urge Congress to take action. We must strongly advocate avoiding any proposal that threatens U.S. biomedical innovation, public or private sector-driven. See highlights of the science portions of the president’s speech and our press statement.

Speaking, as the president did, of Alzheimer’s, did you know that the annual cost of Alzheimer’s is $200 billion? By 2050, that number is expected to rocket to $1 trillion! To address the looming threat of across-the-board funding cuts, USAgainstAlzheimers has launched a major advocacy push, sending thousands of letters to Congress, leading a sign-on letter of researchers, and running a full-page ad in Roll Call.

As pointed out by columnist Robert McCartney in The Washington Post, television and radio this morning, biomedical research will be hurt by sequestration as much as defense, right here in the National Capital Area. He quoted NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins extensively and also cited Children’s National Medical Center’s Dr. Eric Hoffman, whose important work on muscular dystrophy has stalled as NIH has held back funding until decisions are made by Congress. Meanwhile, patients are waiting. The idea that Dr. Hoffman’s work – and all of medical research, as well as education, energy and defense and much more – is considered “discretionary” is more than revealing, it is unacceptable to Americans.

Fighting to avoid sequestration, the defense and non-defense communities held a joint event this week to highlight the dangers posed by sequestration, as reported in CQ Roll Call. Leaders from the aerospace industry along with members of the university, health, and science community released new estimates demonstrating that sequestration could rob the American economy of 2 million jobs, causing another recession. Also bringing the message home, Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) held a Q&A session with federal workers at the NIH, saying that sequestration would lead to the loss of 100,000 jobs, considering both Bethesda-based NIH employees and businesses that work with them.

Have you brought the message home, so that your representative and senators are hearing it and will act? We can help – contact your representatives and email our science policy director, Max G. Bronstein, to learn about other ways boost your engagement. Only 15 days until the March 1st sequestration deadline.

Sincerely,

Mary Woolley

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: Stop Sequestration, Take Action TODAY

Dear Research Advocate,

The debate over how to stop sequestration rages on, with the president weighing in this week even as some influential Members of Congress hold fast to a do-nothing strategy. Now it’s time for us all to speak out! Along with our partners, we are pulling out the stops TODAY with a coordinated Day of Action. In just 10 minutes you can call and email your representatives, as well as congressional leadership. Then ask everyone in your networks — professional and personal — to do the same. Use this link to find our e-action alert and click here for access to congressional emails and phone numbers. Congress pays attention to volumes of communication; act now to assure that they know that sequestration is no way to drive the economy or improve health.

Research!America Board members and former Congressmen John Porter and Kweisi Mfume are speaking out with a timely op-ed in The HillThe bottom line? Our nation must find its way to a fiscally sustainable path without sacrificing programs that improve our health and our economic prosperity. Former Governor John Engler, CEO of Business Roundtable (BRT), is calling for a pro-growth solution to the nation’s deficit; he points out that failure to act, and moving from one fiscal crisis to another, is counterproductive to sustained growth. A new report from BRT also speaks to the importance of our nation continuing to invest in STEM education and federal R&D.

Until the sequestration battle is resolved, likely at the 11th hour as usual, the media will be hungry for stories and examples of how sequestration could affect your community or your institutions. The Boston Globe has been providing ongoing coverage of impact in the greater Boston area, but media outlets in other parts of the country have yet to follow suit. It’s time to pitch your story to the media! Fortunately, compelling data and persuasive arguments for your op-ed, article or letter to the editor are easy to come by. United for Medical Research has just released a new report detailing what’s at stake: more than 20,000 jobs and $3 billion in economic output. Science Works for U.S. has put together an excellent video resource featuring research leaders from across the country speaking out about sequestration. See also this new report from the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, providing chapter and verse on how federal funding pays off.

Media attention to State of the Union address on February 12 provides another opportunity to emphasize sequestration’s potentially devastating impact on research. Join Research!America and the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network for a pre-SOTU Twitter chat on Monday, February 11, 1 to 2 p.m. ET. Visit @ResearchAmerica and @ACSCAN on Twitter to follow me and ACSCAN President Chris Hansen as we discuss important facts about sequestration and answer questions from participants. Use the hashtag #curesnotcuts in your tweets to join the conversation.

In case you missed it, Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) delivered a speech extolling the cost-controlling, as well as healing power, of research and called for cutting unnecessary red tape and for the repeal of the medical device tax. He described the federal government’s vital role in supporting basic medical research “appropriate.” But his remarks also called for “re-prioritizing” existing research spending, away from the social sciences. His remarks make it clear that advocates have our work cut out to connect the dots between social science research and controlling health care costs and saving lives.

Dr. Carolyn Clancy is stepping down from AHRQ after a distinguished 10-year record of improving health care delivery and ensuring that medical providers use up to date evidence-based practices. Read our press statement here. NSF Director Dr. Subra Suresh is also leaving his position. Dr. Suresh has been instrumental in fostering interdisciplinary collaborations throughout NSF and has worked to broaden participation in NSF-supported activities. You can read our press statement here. The Board of Research!America and I salute them for their outstanding public service, dedication to research and regular participation in our forums and other programs.

Sincerely,

Mary Woolley

Research!America Honors Senators Richard Burr and Bob Casey for Strengthening our Nation’s Commitment to Research and Development

Burr and Casey to Receive the Edwin C. Whitehead Award for Medical Research Advocacy at Research!America’s Advocacy Awards Dinner on March 13

Alexandria, Va.February 6, 2013–Sens. Richard Burr (R-NC) and Bob Casey (D-PA) will receive the Edwin C. Whitehead Award for Medical Research Advocacy for their leadership and strong support of federal and private sector medical research and innovation. Sens. Burr and Casey have worked individually and in a bipartisan manner to promote a robust medical research pipeline in the U.S. and ensure patients receive access to new, safe and effective treatments and technologies on a timely basis.

“Senators Burr and Casey exemplify what it means to be a research champion,” said Research!America Chair John Edward Porter. “They have each devoted their energies to ensuring that federal funding and policies are aligned with the goal of accelerating medical progress, from basic research to private sector discovery to timely patient access.  Congressional support for the public and private sector research pipeline is critical to capitalize on recent breakthroughs, maintain our global competitiveness as other nations dramatically ramp up their investments in medical innovation, and fight back against costly, devastating illnesses such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, heart disease and cancer.”

During their combined 14 years of experience as members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, Sens. Burr and Casey have championed legislation to catalyze and improve the research pipeline, and they jointly sponsored a bipartisan letter in support of research conducted by the National Institutes of Health.

Sen. Burr introduced and achieved passage of legislation to establish the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB), which uses pioneering research to develop new technologies aimed at diagnosing, preventing and treating, among other conditions, breast cancer and spinal cord injuries. He also introduced the Promoting Accountability, Transparency, Innovation, Efficiency and Timeliness at FDA (Patient’s FDA) Act with Sen. Tom Coburn, MD (R-OK) to ensure timely patient access to new drugs and medical devices. Sen. Burr’s Biodefense and Pandemic Vaccine and Drug Development Act of 2005 allows rapid development of certain drugs and vaccines in case of a pandemic or natural disease outbreak.

“I am honored to receive this award, but the people who really deserve it are the hard-working, dedicated and brilliant researchers and scientists in North Carolina and across the country who are making breakthroughs every day that enhance the quality of life and, in many cases, save lives,” said Sen. Burr. “They are the ones we should all be honoring.”

Sen. Casey led a bipartisan group of lawmakers in introducing the Life Sciences Jobs and Investment Act of 2011, legislation that would double the R&D tax credit for life science firms. He also introduced the Creating Hope Act of 2011, a bill to foster the development of research breakthroughs for rare and neglected diseases, such as pediatric cancers and malaria. Last year, he sent a letter to Senate appropriators to inform them of a breakthrough in genetics research and emphasize the importance of maintaining NIH funding.

“I am honored to receive the Edwin C. Whitehead Award for Medical Research Advocacy from Research!America,” said Sen. Casey. ”Pennsylvania is a leader in the area of medical research which is critical to preventing, treating and curing diseases. Medical research is also a field that employs thousands across the state and plays an important role in the Commonwealth’s economy. I believe that it is essential to continue support for medical research because of the potential health benefits for all Americans and the importance of ensuring that our nation remains at the forefront of medical innovation.”

The Whitehead Award will be presented to Sen. Burr and Sen. Casey at Research!America’s 2013 Advocacy Awards dinner on Wednesday, March 13, in Washington, DC. The program honors outstanding individuals and organizations in advocacy for medical, health and scientific research. The Whitehead Award, named in honor of Research!America’s founder, Edwin “Jack” Whitehead, recognizes exemplary leaders, particularly those in public office, who have demonstrated a deep commitment to advancing biomedical and health research as a national priority and who galvanize others in support of science.

Other Advocacy Award winners include Diane Rehm, author and host of WAMU 88.5 and NPR’s “The Diane Rehm Show”; John F. Crowley, patient advocate and inspirational entrepreneur, chairman and CEO of Amicus Therapeutics, Inc.; John Mendelsohn, MD, director, Khalifa Institute for Personalized Cancer Therapy and former president at 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).

About Research!America’s Advocacy Awards Dinner

The annual Research!America Advocacy Awards program was established in 1996 by the Board of Directors to honor outstanding advocates for medical, health and scientific research. Recognized individuals and organizations are those whose leadership efforts have been notably effective in advancing our nation’s commitment to research. This year the awards event will take place on March 13, 2013, at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington, DC. For more information, visit www.researchamerica.org/advocacy_awards.

About Research America

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 representing 125 million Americans. Visit www.researchamerica.org.

###

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: Bipartisan support is essential to science

Dear Research Advocate,

With the world listening, President Obama acknowledged the importance of science, STEM education and research to our nation’s economic competitiveness and, more generally, to the future our children face. Many Republicans have voiced similar views. While it is heartening that policy makers on both sides of the aisle believe in research, they also must cut dollars from the federal budget. The president noted this in his speech and also mentioned the need to tame rising health care costs. The intersection of research, rising health care costs, and deficit reduction is the exact spot where advocates need to jump in. As policy makers grapple with how to control health care costs, will they treat funding for biomedical and health research as part of the problem or part of the solution? As they consider deficit reduction, will the notion of investing in research as a job-producing, industry-sustaining, economic growth strategy even enter the discussions, or will research dollars be swept away as part of sequestration or ever more stringent caps on discretionary spending? The answer to both of those questions is the same: It’s up to us.

If you haven’t weighed in, consider it D-day. If you haven’t tried to recruit new advocates, now’s the time. Many, many more Americans must speak up and let their federal representatives know that medical progress is vitally important. Many, many more of us need to make the case that research is a deficit reduction strategy and essential if we are going to tackle the direct and indirect costs of diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. We must convince policy makers that while it may seem easier to make across-the-board cuts than to prioritize, this is counterproductive. Our polling shows that Americans don’t want the unintended consequences of across-the-board cuts. And they want biomedical and health research to be a priority. The possibility of cuts that incapacitate our health research agencies is real. Meanwhile, countries in Europe and Asia are continuing to boost investment. Funding rates for federally funded biomedical science in Germany, for example, are above 25% — quite a gap from the NIH, which is funding at historically low rates right now. All of our collective efforts now in these next few weeks — or the lack thereof — will have dramatic and lasting consequences.

An advantage we have and must maintain in the fight to save research is that support remains a bipartisan issue, championed by Republicans and Democrats alike. And that bipartisan support is long-standing, with several former Members of Congress continuing their leadership. Research!America Chair John Porter was highlighted as a Republican champion of science during his tenure in the House in a recent article in The Atlantic. Last week, former Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-TX) wrote an opinion piece pointing out that more than half of post-WWII economic growth can be attributed to technological innovation. Cite that fact in an email to the leaders of Congress, who are in the driver’s seat right now; send a copy to your representatives. You can personalize and send an email to members by clicking here.

Sincerely,

Mary Woolley

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: Inaugural topics?

Dear Research Advocate,

President Obama delivered a comprehensive plan for stemming gun violence yesterday, identifying, among other components, a renewed role for federally funded research. (Prohibitions enacted by Congress in the mid-1990s and expanded in 2011 have largely prevented federal agencies from funding firearms-related research.) An executive memorandum signed by the president on Wednesday directs CDC to conduct research on the causes of gun violence and ways to prevent it. Restrictions on research that informs federal policy are counterproductive to sound governance. With the benefit of research findings, policy makers can identify the most effective strategies for preventing firearm violence. Research!America applauds the president and joins all those who oppose restrictions on research for health. A national focus on ending gun violence will surely be a topic addressed by the president in his second inaugural address on Monday.

On the budget front, which the president will almost certainly address in his remarks, the drawn-out, kick-the-can-down-the-road approach to avoiding fiscal chaos is already taking a deep toll on our nation’s core government functions, including medical research. This message was delivered loud and clear this week in Forbes, in a piece called “Congress is Killing Medical Research” by Dr. Steven Salzberg of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Share this terrific editorial with your networks, and make sure your elected officials have read it too! You can use our web tool to find contact information for your federal representatives. The damage of the current fiscal situation was also called out in an article by Richard Craver in the Winston-Salem Journal, describing how Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center is being hit with a “triple whammy.”

In an interview with Politico, Dr. Francis Collins, director of the NIH, said sequestration would deal a “profound and devastating blow” to medical research. In 2011, the NIH budget was reduced by 1.5% and has continued to lose ground to inflation, which has eroded the agency’s ability to support lifesaving research by 20% since 2003. Dr. Collins also highlighted shrinking grant success rates; now just 1 in 6 applications are funded. This has a terribly demoralizing effect on young researchers and patients alike. Email your representatives now, and urge them to end sequestration once and for all.

Will the president use the platform of the inaugural address to underscore the importance of health and medical research? From preventing gun violence to ending the costly scourge of Alzheimer’s and so many other ailments, there are profoundly important reasons to assign a top priority to solutions research can and will identify, given adequate support. Advocates for research look to the president to take a leadership role; so does the American public, 72% of whom want biomedical and health research to be a priority for the president and for the new Congress in its first 100 days.

Sincerely,

Mary Woolley

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