Tag Archives: global competitiveness

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: A 21st Century Sputnik Wake up Call

Dear Research Advocate:

The end of the year is a good time to think ahead and consider our nation at the end of the decade; how will we fare in the world order? My letter this week to the editor of the New York Times highlights poll data indicating that Americans don’t believe the U.S. will be the world leader in science and technology by 2020. This data reflects opinions grounded in numerous media reports on China’s accomplishments and determination to lead the world in science. Chinese accomplishments in space of late and their plans for a space station in 2020 ought to be a 21st century “Sputnik moment” for the U.S. It should be a wake-up call to policy makers: get serious about fueling our nation’s underpowered research and education infrastructure if we expect to compete globally in the years ahead. As NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins noted in his Washington Post op-ed this week, we’re at a “critical juncture” in biomedical research. Do we pursue opportunities derived from recent medical breakthroughs or squander them with insufficient funding for research?  Continue reading →

Health R&D Spending Moves Slowly Upward, Driven by Industry, Philanthropy and Voluntary Health Associations

Federal R&D Funding Remains “Woefully Inadequate” to Address Health Threats and Global Competitiveness

Highlights:

  • Overall health R&D spending in the U.S. increased by $4.3 billion (3.5%).
  • Industry, philanthropy and voluntary associations led gains in R&D spending.
  • Federal R&D spending rose 2.2% but a considerable amount is the result of agency reorganization and reclassification.

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—December 17, 2013After declining in FY10-11, health-related research and development (R&D) spending in the U.S. increased by $4.3 billion (3.5%) in FY11-12, according to Truth and Consequences: Health R&D Spending in the U.S. (FY11-12), the 10th edition from Research!America highlighting estimates of U.S. investments. This spending increase was largely driven by industry, philanthropy and voluntary health associations as well as changes in the classification of spending within a few federal agencies. For the full report, click here.

“Industry, philanthropic and voluntary health association R&D spending increases offer a glimmer of hope in this dark era for medical research,” said Research!America’s chair, former Congressman John E. Porter. “Stagnant federal investments jeopardize our nation’s ability to advance medical progress and fuel private sector innovation, a catalyst for job creation and economic recovery.” Continue reading →

When it comes to prevention of chronic disease, what one policy change would have the greatest impact on moving from “promise” to “results?”

by Mary Woolley, Research!America President and CEO. This entry was originally posted as a guest contribution to PhRMA’s Conversations forum.

mary-woolley-webA shift in attitude among elected officials is necessary if this nation is to succeed in combating disease and stemming the rise of health care costs. Federal funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and other agencies that conduct medical and health research has not kept pace with scientific opportunity, jeopardizing our ability to find cures for deadly disease and to maintain our global competitive edge. Medical research has not risen to the upper ranks of our nation’s priorities in the halls of Congress; advocacy from stakeholders is critical to changing this.

Underfunded federal agencies that should be providing the catalyst for private sector innovation to help bend the cost curve are instead forced to cut and cut. Even as federal funding diminishes, the burden of disease rages on, exacting a tremendous financial and emotional toll on patients and families stressed by learning of delays in the next phase of promising research that could one day lead to cures. And not only are our elected officials giving too little attention to key federal agencies, they are not prioritizing policy-making that will incentivize the private sector to accelerate the development of new treatments and therapies for patients. There is a lot of talk about the value of innovation, but not a lot of action to stimulate it.   Continue reading →

Does Spanish Austerity Provide a Glimpse into the Future of American Research?

Spain’s economy was harshly affected by the 2008 financial crisis and, later, the eurozone crisis. (Just this week, the country’s budget minister said Spain has reached a turning point and may at last be emerging from its financial troubles.) Its efforts to slash government spending left few unaffected, and a recent article by Agence France-Presse detailed the effects on Spanish researchers.

The Prince Felipe Research Center, in the coastal city of Valencia, lost around half of its funding from the Spanish government; as a result, it closed half of its 28 labs and let go 114 workers. María Jesus Vicent told the wire service that her lab had made great strides in prostate cancer research, but there’s no money to move forward into animal testing.

The fallout is obvious: fewer people employed (in a country that already has a staggering unemployment rate) and medical breakthroughs left on the shelf. Less obvious is this anecdote from the story, which demonstrates a near elimination of return on investment: “Now the center’s hi-tech installations are falling into disuse, with its two mechanized operating theaters for animal research now being used for training courses instead.” 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 →

John Edward Porter, Chairman of Research!America, says Scientists Must Take on Broader Role in Advocacy

Hon. John Edward PorterThe chair of Research!America’s board of directors, John Edward Porter, tells Chemical & Engineering News that he began college with the aspiration of becoming an engineer or scientist. As fate would have it, he turned his focus instead to pursuing a law degree. He never lost his passion for science, though. That passion is evident in his efforts as a champion for research while in Congress and in his work with Research!America. Now he is charging scientists to take on a broader role in science advocacy.

In an era of flat-funded budgets and sequestration, Porter says it’s important for scientists to engage more with policy makers, most of whom are lawyers by trade.  Porter acknowledges that engaging with the public and taking on the role of an advocate may be very uncomfortable and unnatural to scientists, but it is a vital step to ensuring the U.S. maintains a position of world leadership. To be an effective advocate doesn’t mean scientists only have to ask for more money; advocacy and engagement can be accomplished through a range of activities. Continue reading →

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: The $6 billion dollar election

Dear Research Advocate,

By far the most expensive, and arguably one of the most divisive, election seasons in history is behind us. A lot of money was spent to find out that Americans continue to hold divergent views on many issues. We heard very little about research during the election because, in most ways, it is not a divisive issue; support is both bipartisan and grounded in common sense. The problem is that it can be taken too much for granted. At a time when Americans are looking for an end to standoff politics and want action on things we can feel good about as a nation, prioritizing research for health can be the perfect healing issue — something we can all be proud of. But let’s be clear: Action to prioritize research will only happen if we speak out to put it in the spotlight as policy makers regroup to address the fiscal cliff. We need to convince policy makers that prioritizing research is the smart thing to do as well — smart for job creation and to drive the economy, smart for assuring our global competitiveness, smart for patients, and smart for maximizing innovations that will save lives and drive down the cost of health care.

We must unite and speak with one voice that we need cures, not cuts! If you are not already on board our week of advocacy November 12-16, I encourage you to add your organization to our list of partners and engage your networks to participate in the various strategies that are planned, including a call-in day, a day for visits to district offices, an email-in day, and a Hill day entailing visits to a number of DC offices. All these strategies are supported by an inside-the-Beltway advertising campaign designed to get maximum attention. Click here to see the latest schedule of events for the week ahead. If you would like to sign up for the Hill day, have other events that you would like to include in the calendar, or would like more information, contact Ellie Dehoney at edehoney@researchamerica.org. As an important part of this effort, we are circulating a sign-on letter urging Congress to prioritize research in a deal averting sequestration or any other plan for addressing the deficit. Read the full letter here, and contact Jordan Gates at jgates@researchamerica.org for an updated list of cosigners and/or to sign on. The deadline is fast approaching — be sure to sign today!

Post-election, it is instructive to take a look at the responses of various candidates who responded to Your Candidates–Your Health, our voter education initiative. I recommend taking a quick look at President Obama’s responses here, noting his commitment to doubling funding for federal research agencies. As a sampling of other responses take a look at those of Rep. Dr. Dan Benishek (R-MI), who held his seat, here. In Massachusetts, Joe Kennedy won a seat in the 4th District – judging from his responses here, he will be one of our new champions. Medical research champion Brian Bilbray (R-CA) is locked in a not-yet-called election in San Diego. For more on what this election means, be sure to attend our post-election event on November 15th.

I have had the chance to talk about the post-election prospects for research as they impact all the elements of the research enterprise on BioCentury This Week. This program can be viewed here. Maybe you will watch it with a copy of the latest (tomorrow’s) issue of Science magazine in hand. In the lead editorial, AAAS CEO Dr. Alan Leshner and I urge the science community — as individuals as well as through their institutions and associations — to speak out now to Congress or face the decline of research in this nation. This is not a time to hold back! As you reach out, make use of resources on the website for the Week of Advocacy, www.saveresearch.org, including op-ed and letter-to-the editor templates, sample tweets and a new fact sheet on the economic impact of NIH. There are also links to many extraordinary resources produced by FASEB, UMR, AAAS, Ad Hoc and many other organizations. We thank you all for uniting in saying to Congress and the administration: WE NEED CURES, NOT CUTS!

Sincerely,

Mary Woolley

Research!America and Many Other Health Research Advocates Campaign For Cures, Not Cuts

Research, Industry, Academic and Patient Groups Join Forces for Week of Advocacy to Save Research, November 12-16, 2012

WASHINGTON – November 1, 2012 – Research!America, along with several dozen patient, industry, academic and health organizations, has coordinated a Week of Advocacy to Save Research for the week of November 12-16, 2012. The unified campaign is intended to convince policy makers to champion medical innovation, rather than undercut it, as decisions are made to address the “fiscal cliff.”

The campaign — We Need Cures, Not Cuts —is designed to raise awareness about the importance of making biomedical and health research a higher national priority. The campaign will urge Congress to support funding levels and incentives that advance scientific discovery and expand private sector innovation.

“With so much at stake, research advocates must join forces to fight for lifesaving research, which is also a fight for American innovation and American jobs,” said Mary Woolley, president and CEO of Research!America. “Together, we will work to persuade lawmakers to take a stand against arbitrary budget cuts in order to protect the nation’s health and maintain our global competitiveness.”

The organizations are combining forces to call attention to research as the underpinning of economic growth and medical progress as Congress takes action to address sequestration and other statutory challenges known as the “fiscal cliff.” The Week of Advocacy will include Capitol Hill meetings, print advertisements in Capitol Hill publications and Metro stations, policy forums, social media campaigns, call-in days, video campaigns, and other communications and grassroots activities. More information can be found at www.saveresearch.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.

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