Tag Archives: Eric Cantor

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: Risky business

Dear Research Advocate:

What does the current political impasse in Washington have in common with deadly or disabling diseases? They will not cure themselves, and the harm escalates until the “patient” gets expert treatment. There is no place for miracle cures or wishful thinking. The solution isn’t what a given individual or party wants it to be, it’s what solves the problem. Right now, it’s by no means clear what or who will solve the problems — which now include the debt ceiling as well as the lack of funding to run the government. Fasten your seat belts for more turbulence between now and October 17th.

You may have heard that the House passed a bill yesterday to fund NIH, along with several other stand-alone appropriation bills (funding it at an unacceptably low level, I might add — below FY12 levels). Beyond the fact that this piecemeal, slow-walking avoidance tactic of finding a solution to the government shutdown is dead on arrival in the Senate and the White House, this “Sophie’s Choice,” cherry-picking approach to better health has no place in a functioning research and innovation ecosystem, and we spoke out against it. That said, it was gratifying that NIH was singled out as publicly popular and good to see the possibility of new champions emerging who recognize the importance of NIH funding during the floor debate on the bill. But make no mistake, had we and other advocates supported this ill-conceived measure, we would have been supporting the decline of science in this nation. Continue reading →

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A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: Help set our nation’s sights high on the Fourth of July

Dear Research Advocate:

Setting our nation’s sights high, rather than watching Rome burn; that’s the advice embedded in a recent op-ed authored by John R. Seffrin, PhD (CEO of the American Cancer Society and Research!America Board Member) and Michael Caligiuri, MD (CEO of the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – James Cancer Center Hospital and Solove Research Institute). The authors advocate establishing a national plan, one that puts political differences aside and focuses on combating deadly and tremendously costly disease.

There is a compelling argument to be made that if our nation wants to sustain a balanced budget, it must deploy a disease moonshot. If our nation wants to protect the health and safety of Americans, lead medical progress instead of abandoning it, and fix the debt, health and medical research must be treated as a top national priority. Advocacy is a path that can take us there, if enough of us travel it and we raise our voices loud enough. Join us next week as we continue our national “#curesnotcuts” social media campaign during the 4th of July Congressional Recess. Check here for more information including sample messages. An article in the Portland Tribune and the ongoing regional radio interviews that I’m conducting over the recess are examples of recent media that effectively frame what’s at stake.The goal is to keep research in the news and in the hearts and minds of our nation’s decision-makers. Continue reading →

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: Misleading titles, or misunderstanding of science, or both?

Dear Research Advocate,

House of Representatives Science Committee Chair Lamar Smith’s (R-TX) proposed legislation, the “High Quality Research Act,” would undermine, rather than achieve, “high quality” in research, since it would create several new hoops for approval of NSF-funded grants. These appear to be based on the mistaken idea that science follows a linear path to a single metric for success or failure. And the bill requires the NSF director to attest in advance to the success of each funded proposal! Letters penned by former NSF directors and National Science Board chairs and former NSF assistant directors warn of the “chilling and detrimental impact” this legislation could have on the current merit-based system. In order to rebuff this outright attack on science, many more advocates must weigh in. The Coalition for National Science Funding (CNSF) will send a letter addressing the concerns of shifting away from “scientific merit” as the ultimate criteria for determining which science to fund. If you are a part of an organization that would like to sign on to this letter, please contact Sam Rankin. Or write your own. In any case, join us in taking action!

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s (R-VA) new bill, H.R. 1724, known as the “Kids First Research Act of 2013,” aims to “eliminate taxpayer financing of presidential campaigns and party conventions and reprogram savings to provide for a 10-year pediatric research initiative …” The bill’s text would limit scientific freedom, as Section 4 is a ban on NIH-funded health economics research. Health economics research is crucial to efficient, effective health care and health care systems, and it also has a significant role to play in ensuring the efficiency and effectiveness of research itself. Especially if you perform, benefit from or use findings from health economics research, but also if you care about the future of science, please reach out to your elected officials to call for eliminating Section 4 of H.R. 1724. Continue reading →

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: This is your BRAIN on research

Dear Research Advocate,

On Tuesday, the president announced a new $100 million brain research initiative (BRAIN) that will involve NSF, NIH and DARPA and include support from a number of independent research institutes and private foundations. The fact that the White House has announced this “moonshot” is an important sign that research is securing its rightful role as a top national priority, which is critical to our collective goal of eliminating sequestration and aligning research funding with scientific opportunity. The president will include BRAIN in his FY14 budget, which will be released April 10.

In CQ, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) expressed support for the BRAIN initiative but commented that it should be funded by redirecting money from social and political science programs, a sentiment echoed in a statement from Speaker John Boehner’s (R-OH) office. Social and political science programs are a critical piece of our nation’s research portfolio. We are cosponsoring a Hill briefing on this topic Friday — Economics Research: Saving Lives and Money. Leader Cantor has also announced a new bill that would increase NIH funding by $200 million in order to support new research that may include pediatric diseases like autism, paying for it by redirecting public funding away from presidential campaigns.

Sequestration remains a topic generating huge interest in the media. Our community is succeeding in making sure the impact of sequestration on science is part of the conversation. USA Today ran an article describing how reduced funding and success rates for basic research is leading young researchers away from careers in academic science. The Huffington Post published a thought-provoking op-ed co-authored by Drs. Neal Lane and Peter Hotez at Rice University and Baylor College of Medicine, respectively. They discuss the importance of creating a cadre of scientist-advocates or “civic-scientists” in order to engage with the public and policy makers. In The Hill, Dr. Leroy Hood, president of the Institute for Systems Biology, describes how medical breakthroughs can help solve the budget crisis through a new era of P4 medicine, which could deliver lifesaving cures and treatments to lower health care spending while powering our economy. PBS’ “NewsHour” and MSNBC’s Chris Hayes covered sequestration’s impact on science last evening and on their websites. Local media are highlighting how sequestration could impact individual institutions, such as this article illustrating the impact on front-line medical research. For those of you at institutions that have not as yet been covered by the media, now is the time to write an op-ed or reach out to your local newspaper. We can help; just ask.

The next big statement the research community will be making about the importance of research will be the Rally for Medical Research on April 8. I hope to see you there! Our board chair, former Congressman John Porter, will be among the many research champions speaking out  at the event sponsored by the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR). We are working to continue the momentum of the Rally so that the value of bringing together so many organizations (175 and counting) can be leveraged on a continuing basis.

Watch for our release of a new poll in conjunction with a panel discussion to be held on Capitol Hill, Conquering Pain & Fighting Addiction, on April 8 at 4 p.m. Conquering chronic pain without fear of addiction is a goal research can help address. These are topics that are underappreciated even as they are highly charged, causing great anguish as well as great suffering.

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

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: Congress is back and there is lots to talk about

Dear Research Advocate,

Congress is back in Washington but still in campaign mode, making its decisions with the election very much in mind. A 6-month continuing resolution (C.R.) is expected to pass momentarily. The C.R. would put off appropriations decision-making until the new Congress has gotten under way, flat-funding the government through March of next year at fiscal 2012 levels. The atmosphere of fiscal uncertainty for the agencies that fund research, and everyone seeking that funding, is in fact demoralizing in the extreme. Compounding the problem is that the C.R. does nothing to address the looming problem of sequestration, which is scheduled to take effect on January 2, 2013. The administration is slated to release a report tomorrow detailing how the sequestration cuts would be implemented at the department and agency level; it is unlikely to single out research and innovation for special protection. Thus it is more important than ever that our stakeholder community unite in a call to stop sequestration. We encourage you to join us and other members of the United for Medical Research (UMR) coalition on September 20 in a press conference at the National Press Club at 9:30 a.m. Please RSVP to sbauer@gpgdc.com.

Last week, a timely op-ed by Michael Milken in the The Wall Street Journal highlighted the wondrous medical advances and economic prosperity that have been made possible through investments in research. The op-ed coincided with the Milken-sponsored Celebration of Science, a weekend-long series of discussions and other events shining a spotlight on the multifaceted contributions of science to the well-being of Americans and populations throughout the world. In the course of the proceedings, both Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) spoke forcefully about the high priority the nation must place on medical research.

On Tuesday this week, the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation announced the recipients of the prestigious Lasker Awards – often referred to as the ‘American Nobels’ – which will be presented in New York City later this month. The accomplishments of these awardees exemplify the power of research to unlock knowledge that is of invaluable benefit to society. Mary Lasker, a founder of Research!America, lives on with her hard-hitting message: “If you think research is expensive, try disease!” For timely information on the costs of disease as well as the value and promise of research, see our fact sheets. Use them in your advocacy!

Three other media pieces this week were timed for Congress’ return. Our Your Candidates-Your Health ad is running in Politico now. Use it to leverage your request to candidates to tell us all what they will do to make research a priority. A Washington Post op-ed co-authored by Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN) and Research!America board member and AAAS Executive Director Dr. Alan Leshner fights back against kneejerk reactions to research based on the name of the project and/or the misconception that science is a mechanical process rather than an iterative, dynamic one. The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and others have come together to recognize outstanding researchers whose contributions belie their detractors with the first Golden Goose Award ceremony.

With her letter in the The Wall Street Journal, Ellen Sigal, chairman and founder of Friends of Cancer Research and a Research!America Board member, emphasizes that the views and values of patients must be taken into account when FDA makes the risk vs. benefit calculations that factor so importantly in drug approval decisions. She points out that “risk” is in the eye of the beholder when a new drug is the last and best hope for a terminally ill patient. It is a welcome development that more patients and patient groups are stepping up to take their rightful place in the research process, ultimately driving it across the finish line faster. Patient engagement with Congress has always been high impact; now we need it to influence candidates to make medical progress a top national priority.

Sincerely,

Mary Woolley