Tag Archives: Bob Casey

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: Forty-three days and counting

Dear Research Advocate:

Yesterday, the Budget Conference Committee, chaired by Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI-01), met for the first time. The committee only has until December 13 to accomplish its task of producing at least a short-term budget. Expectations are modest considering the short timeline, the House and Senate recess schedules, and the number of issues declared “off the table.” There is some talk of replacing sequestration, at least for the remainder of FY14, with selected cuts. In order to assure that research is not cut and in fact is prioritized for an increase, many stakeholders must speak up. It is essential that our issue is discussed as a priority every day in this 43-day countdown — in the media, in hometown districts, by staffers and by our elected officials. Please be sure to speak out. Urge your Members of Congress to advocate on your behalf — and on behalf of all who are depending on research for health — to their colleagues on the Budget Conference Committee.

Sequestration really must go! Useful facts to bolster our case about how sequestration is stalling scientific R&D in this country — to the detriment of business and consumers alike — is now at the ready. Columnist Gerald F. Seib of The Wall Street Journal points to many consumer products and their components that have origins in federally supported basic research, adding billions of dollars to our economy over the decades. And the Science Coalition has released a new report Sparking Economic Growth 2.0 highlighting 100 companies whose beginnings were aided by federally funded university research. Think of Google’s roots in NSF funding and Genentech’s in NIH, for just two prominent examples. The report describes the role these research-based companies play in bringing transformative innovations to market, creating jobs and contributing to economic growth. It’s all too easy to forget, once a business is thriving, how taxpayer funding helped them get its start. Continue reading →

The Science Policy Group at the University of Pennsylvania

By Shaun O’Brien, co-president of the Penn Science Policy Group. O’Brien is a fifth-year immunology graduate student at the Perelman School of Medicine (a Research!America member).

Shaun O’Brien

Shaun O’Brien

In response to the need to voice the concerns of young biomedical graduates and post-docs over the federal funding climate, graduate student Mike Allegrezza founded the Science Policy Group at the University of Pennsylvania. Over the past 6 months, our group has been involved in advocacy efforts along with examining other specific issues pertaining to careers, graduate education and other hot-button issues.

In terms of advocacy, the group has been very active in opposing sequestration, the across-the-board spending cuts for federal agencies, and educating the public about the impacts of sequestration on medical research. In the time leading up to the sequester, our group wrote an op-ed for The Daily Pennsylvanian, had terrific op-ed pieces by Alana Sharp and Ellen Elliot on the group blog, participated in interviews with The Philadelphia Inquirer, and even had Nicole Aiello, a third-year doctoral student at Penn, do an interview with NPR! Continue reading →

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: Champions at work, advocates at the ready

Dear Research Advocate,

Senators Casey (D-PA) and Burr (R-NC), recently honored with our Whitehead Award for Research Advocacy, have joined forces again with a bipartisan letter calling for a strong commitment to NIH funding in FY 14. Please take a moment now to urge your senators to sign on to this letter. And say thank you to Senators Burr and Casey for being champions for research!

In past letters, I’ve written about attempts by Congress to micromanage and in some cases, attack critical components of our nation’s research portfolio. The social sciences have been targeted time and time again despite the immense value of these programs and the return on investment they represent. In response, the NSF has released a report, “How Social, Behavioral, and Economic Research Addresses National Challenges.” It will prove useful in your advocacy for these important avenues of research. Next week, COSSA invites you to a briefing on the role social sciences play in improving our response to national disasters – a topic that seems more relevant than ever in light of recent events.

Meanwhile, there has been yet another blow to our nation’s public health capacity. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which has recently been in the news as a first responder to the emergence in China of a human strain of a potentially deadly flu previously found only in animals, reportedly received another fiscal year 2013 funding cut. This $374 million cut, the result of a decision by the Administration to execute a shift in funding away from the Prevention and Public Health Fund, is just the most recent of a series of devastating budget cuts to CDC, an agency with a broad and important mission held back by a tiny budget. The nation at large won’t notice the diminution of CDC until the next public health disaster strikes home; and by then, it could be too late. For more information and suggestions for advocacy, contact the Campaign for Public Health Foundation. Continue reading →

Advocacy Action Alert

As we continue to fight sequestration, Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Richard Burr (R-NC) have called for a strong commitment to NIH funding in FY 2014. We must urge our senators to sign-on to the bipartisan Casey-Burr letter right away.

As you know, the stakes for research funding have never been higher. Research is a critical national investment that will save and improve lives while growing our economy. Make sure your senators get the message. Remember to share this alert on Facebook and with everyone in your network. Click here to contact your Senators today!

Congratulations to our Advocacy Award Winners

Research!America extends our congratulations again to all of our 2013 Advocacy Award winners. The dinner was a wonderful opportunity to thank our supporters and advocates for all of their hard work and recognize leaders in the research and advocacy communities. This year’s Advocacy Award winners were Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC); Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA); John F. Crowley, patient advocate and chairman and CEO of Amicus Therapeutics, Inc.; Mark Rosenberg, MD, president and CEO of The Task Force for Global Health; John Mendelsohn, MD, director of the Khalifa Institute for Personalized Cancer Therapy and former president at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center; Diane Rehm, host of “The Diane Rehm Show” on NPR; and the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine.

You can read more about the awards and speech by Research!America Chair John Porter in this Roll Call article, in this article about Dr. Rosenberg’s award, and on CIRM’s blog. Also, visit our Facebook page and website to see photos from the awards dinner.

While we applaud our awardees for their efforts, there is still more to be done! As Research!America President and CEO Mary Woolley said in her recent weekly advocacy message, Congress is working on the budget for FY14 and there is still time to contact your representatives and tell them to make research funding a higher priority.

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: Will Policy Makers let Rome Burn?

Dear Research Advocate,

Today, the Senate is planning to vote on a bipartisan continuing resolution from Sens. Mikulski and Shelby to fund the federal government through the end of the year. The good news is that the bill includes an increase, albeit small ($71 million) in NIH funding; Senator Harkin tried, unsuccessfully, unfortunately, to increase NIH even further, and Senator Durbin worked on an ambitious amendment to add more than $1.5 billion to the NIH budget. We truly appreciate the efforts of all of these champions and the fact that NIH funding was singled out for an increase on a bipartisan basis by the Appropriations Committee. The bad news is that sequestration will wipe out all of these increases. The most likely outcome of the Senate appropriations process is a cut to NIH in the $1.5 billion range. While our community’s herculean advocacy efforts over the last several months are paying off — medical research funding is clearly receiving priority consideration — sequestration is sweeping away our progress. We must continue to fight this policy mistake, with its 10 years of consequences. Take a minute right now to speak out to your representatives. And plan, on April 8, to join the research community at a Rally in D.C. to fight for medical research. Learn more here.

Another amendment offered to the Senate legislation would eliminate political science research at NSF by transferring those dollars to the National Cancer Institute. This amendment sets a dangerous precedent that threatens the integrity and value of research. For years, leaders in Congress from both sides of the aisle, including Research!America’s chairman, former Congressman John Porter, have fought off attempts by Congress to micromanage research. We must fight to keep research decisions off the House and Senate floors and in the hands of scientists and patients.

The House and Senate budget resolutions for FY14, which were also introduced this week, are emblematic of the problem we, as a country, face. The ideological divide is so great that “a grand bargain,” one that will balance the federal budget without decimating our economy and forsaking our determination to defeat disabling and deadly diseases, seems impossible. But Congress and the White House report to the American people. We can and must demand compromise between competing views of the government’s role, and we must stand up for priorities like fighting diseases that threaten our own and future generations. No more political party posturing usurping the governing process. No more across-the-board cuts. FY14 must bring with it pragmatism, prioritization and policy making that puts the country first. Norm Ornstein, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, has penned a compelling op-ed in Roll Call capturing these sentiments.

Switching gears in this very big week, I’d like to thank all who were able to join us for yesterday’s Annual Meeting and Advocacy Awards dinner. We heard truly inspirational remarks from Sens. Richard Burr and Bob Casey, champions of the entire ecosystem behind U.S.-driven medical progress. Our other award winners — John Crowley, Diane Rehm, Dr. John Mendelsohn, Dr. Mark Rosenberg and the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine — are strong advocates for research; we salute their achievements.

Finally, as I announced at our Board meeting, I’m proud that Research!America has entered into a letter of agreement with our sister organizations in Australia, Canada and Sweden to ensure international collaboration by sharing best practices in advocacy for research for health. While our organizations operate in different countries and in distinctly different political environments, we have in common a fundamental commitment to making biomedical and health research a higher global priority.

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.

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A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: Sequestration will not produce a growth economy

Dear Research Advocate,

Sequestration is barreling down on us. With the clock ticking to March 1, there are disturbing indications that Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle are prepared to let sequestration move forward. It sounds much too painless to make cuts to a category called “discretionary” — the very word invites belt-tightening — not to mention that this blanket term masks the importance of the programs that would again be damaged (the Budget Control Act took the first swipe at them, and the fiscal cliff agreement, the second). We need to unleash the power of advocacy to put human faces on the rhetoric. We know the reasons research can’t be cut without severe consequences, but do your senators and your representative? It is especially timely to stress the point, made more critical as we heard the news about a decline in GDP, that boosting research investment catalyzes a growth economy.

In this time of critical congressional decision-making, we are very pleased  to report that two champions for research, Senator Burr (R-NC) and Senator Casey (D-PA), will join us at our March 13 Advocacy Awards dinner to receive the Whitehead Award for Medical Research Advocacy. Senators Burr and Casey, have — individually and as a bipartisan team — worked extremely hard to promote a robust medical research pipeline in the U.S. and to ensure patients receive new, safe and effective treatments and technologies on a timely basis. Please contact Carol Kennedy if you would like more information about the Awards dinner. Click here to see a full listing of this year’s honorees. I do hope you can join us!

The Huffington Post carried two excellent articles in support of research funding. Dr. Glenn D. Braunstein of Cedars-Sinai describes the impact of NIH research and urges Congress to avoid the “blunt ax” of sequestration. Dr. William Talman from the University of Iowa writes of the eroding buying power of NIH, which shortchanges all Americans on the return on investment and better health that result from discovery. Inside the Beltway, The Washington Post published a piece by Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, urging Congress to “invest in what’s next.” Dr. Jackson describes the profound impact that advances in science and technology have had on our lives, many of which would have been impossible without federal support.

While the U.S. is contemplating cutbacks to science, Japan is the latest nation to announce multibillion dollar research investments as part of a concerted plan to jumpstart their innovation economy. This is a significant reversal from three years ago when Japanese lawmakers proposed deep cuts to science as part of a budget control plan. Proposals then led to protests from renowned Japanese researchers — a lesson for those who wish to keep funding for research growing even in an era of austerity. The change in the attitude of policy makers, including Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, can be surmised from his recent quote, “Of course we must aim for number one.” It’s time for stakeholders in the U.S. to do more to prevent counterproductive cuts to our own research enterprise and to assure we maintain our global leadership. I recently participated in a panel convened by the Parkinson’s Action Network that brought out the value, as well as the how-to, of advocacy. You can watch the just-released video here.

Sincerely,

Mary Woolley