Tag Archives: presidential debate

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: From rhetoric to decision-making

Dear Research Advocate,

Nine times. That’s how often the word “research” was used in Monday’s third and final presidential debate. Clearly, both candidates recognize the importance of research and the role it plays in keeping our nation competitive. The election and decision-making around deficit reduction will put this rhetoric to the test. I was thankful for the opportunity to contribute to an article in Nature on the outlook for research and the candidates’ sometimes competing, sometimes intersecting visions for our nation. Many indicators point to the need for a “grand bargain”  to avoid the fiscal cliff we have talked so much about. Rumors have it that informal talks are taking place now and will go into high gear during the lame-duck session of Congress beginning November 13. This is a critical time, and I urge you to participate in the biomedical and health research community’s Week of Advocacy, taking place November 13-16. Check out our new webpage (www.saveresearch.org) and join us on a conference call this Monday, October 29 (for details, click here), to hear our plans and to brainstorm ideas on how to maximize our collective impact.

Money matters! Every year, we release our U.S. Investment Report, which tracks domestic spending – public, academic, industry, voluntary health organizations and philanthropic – on biomedical and health research. This year we not only look at the most recent investment numbers, but review the stakes going forward. On both fronts, the news is not good: 2011 saw a drop in overall investment – the first in a decade. And as you well know, the policy landscape is treacherous. Click here to view the report.

Every week, we are learning more about the local impact that sequestration could have on a sluggish economy. The state of Maryland, home to the NIH and Johns Hopkins University, is a powerhouse of research. It stands to lose a staggering $5.4 billion in federal funding under sequestration. That alarming statistic, which comes from a report produced by American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), was highlighted in a story by the Baltimore Sun. Another article, in The Scientist, cites a United for Medical Research (UMR) report to highlight the impact on California, which stands to lose 33,000 jobs and $4.5 billion in economic activity if sequestration goes forward.

If we are to help steer our nation in the right direction, researchers must commit to political advocacy. That was the top-line message from a piece published by Dr. Thomas Pollard, professor of cell biology at Yale University, in the journal Cell. The article provides an excellent introduction to the advocacy landscape and ideas for getting more involved – I hope you will circulate this piece to as many researchers as you can!

Sincerely,

Mary Woolley

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A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: Dying to know more…

Dear Research Advocate,

The first presidential debate gave us little to go on regarding research for health. Americans are dying to know more – many, quite literally dying – about what either presidential candidate would do to speed up medical progress in the face of Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, ALS and the host of other disabling and deadly health threats that breed suffering, compromise independence and drive spiraling health care costs. Add to that the pivotal role medical innovation plays in our economy, and Americans absolutely deserve to know whether candidates will champion or shortchange it. All of us must say to candidates: Tell us what you will do, share your views – candidates for president and Congress alike. Take 30 seconds to ask your candidates to speak out and then help more by sharing this alert.

Another issue that the candidates failed to adequately address in last night’s debate was sequestration, and that’s why we must continue to speak up. If more of us get involved we can shift the halt-the-sequester momentum into high gear – check out the following articles and then write your own op-ed: Athens (GA) Banner-HeraldMontgomery Advertiser. The Los Angeles Times highlighted a new AAAS report on the impact of sequestration (read here). The report provides estimates of just how much states stand to lose under sequestration, with California alone being deprived of over $11 billion in R&D funding over a 5-year period! How much does your state stand to lose? Find out via FASEB’s outstanding series of new fact sheets that illustrate the importance and impact of NIH funding close to home. Take a moment to find the fact sheet for your state or district and use this information in your advocacy efforts.

For years, our public polling has shown that Americans strongly support incentives for companies that are investing in R&D – investments that create jobs and foster innovation. An article recently published in The Atlantic drives this point home, calling on policy makers to not only expand the R&D tax credit but to make it permanent. This is a common-sense policy solution that would enhance our competitiveness at a time when other nations are boosting investment in research and creating new incentives to encourage the private sector to invest. We need to step up, or we will be left behind.

And, speaking of the global nature of science as well as economic interdependence, we are eager to hear the announcements of the Nobel Prizes, starting this coming Monday. Here’s a suggestion: Take the opportunity of the announcements to make a phone call, send an email or write a letter to the editor to call attention to the importance of maintaining strong support of science in this country. Doing so could prove critical in reversing the perception among Capitol Hill staffers that few members of the science community are engaged in the public policy conversation – volume matters and that means every one of us needs to step up.

Sincerely,

Mary Woolley

Statement from Research!America President and CEO Mary Woolley on Presidential Debate

October 3, 2012

The first Presidential debate was a missed opportunity for the candidates to outline a vision for putting research and innovation to work to improve health and strengthen the economy.  Fleeting references to science and research failed to give voters confidence in this regard.  We learned some things in this debate, but we are still — many of us literally — dying to know what either candidate will do to assure that research for health will be a priority for this nation.  Without medical progress, driven by research and innovation, there will be no chance of controlling health care costs or assuring our nation’s continued leadership in the life sciences. We strongly urge the candidates to respond to questions from Americans who are concerned about the impact of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, cancer and other disabling diseases to our nation’s health and prosperity.

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: Prime Time for Research?

Dear Research Advocate,

The first presidential debate will be held Wednesday, October 3 at the University of Denver. This debate will likely be the only one in which health issues are discussed: Will the candidates talk about research and innovation in that context? This is our chance to speak up, whether they do (bravo!) or don’t (why not??). While watching, include the Twitter handle for the debates (@NewsHour) in your tweets, and afterwards, send a letter to the editor of your local paper. This is the final phase of our Your CandidatesYour Health voter education initiative. We know from experience over the years that all of us – stakeholders and advocates for research – become much more energized as the election nears. Be sure to join your colleagues and all fellow advocates in reaching out to the candidates you will see on your ballot on November 6. Tell them that knowing their views on our issues will influence your vote. In fact, don’t wait for the debate next week – follow this link and send your candidates an email today. Then, send the same link to three people you know, asking them to take action. Together, we can make research a campaign issue, building champions we can rely on in 2013 and beyond.

If you are looking for new arguments to make your case, we have recommendations for you. The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) has released a startling report about the long-term economic impacts of sequester, estimating that sequester could cost our economy between $203 billion and $860 billion in GDP! As if this weren’t bad enough, the cuts would result in 200,000 jobs lost in 2013 alone. You can find the full report here and watch the webcast of the report rollout here. An op-ed that appeared in The Week by former Sen. Bill Frist provides additional grist for the mill – he placed familiar statistics into context, making a compelling case for ensuring that medical research is a top national priority. One of many great quotes: “In 2010 alone, the most recent year we have accurate numbers for, medical research accounted for $69 billion worth of economic activity here in America and $90 billion worth of exports. Not to mention NIH funding alone created 480,000 new, good jobs. All in one year.”

In case you missed it, Dr. Francis Collins was on BioCentury TV this past weekend. It’s definitely a segment worth watching – Dr. Collins cites statistic after statistic demonstrating why it is so important to stop sequestration in its tracks. This Sunday morning at 8:30 a.m. ET on WUSA-9 in the D.C. metro area, Research!America Board member The Hon. Mike Castle will be on the air on BioCentury to discuss what the future may hold for research. Be sure to tune in! Indeed, many of our Board members are actively advocating for research: “Speak up now or suffer the consequences later,” said Research!America Board Chair, The Hon. John Porter, at a forum convened by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) this week. Porter spoke about the consequences of apathy among scientists in a budgetary and political environment that poses dramatic risks for science, and again emphasized the importance of the coming election: “the most important in my lifetime.” Not the time for advocates to sit on the sidelines.

Several large pharmaceutical companies, including many Research!America members, have come together to form a new nonprofit to help streamline and accelerate the drug development process. Transcelerate Biopharma is the new outfit, based in Philadelphia. The aim is to develop a variety of standards to improve the efficiency of drug discovery, a pursuit that is notoriously costly and lengthy. See this recent Forbes article to learn more about Transcelerate Biopharma, ably led by CEO Garry Neil, formerly of Johnson & Johnson. In a note of synchronicity, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science & Technology (PCAST) released a new report urging FDA to speed approval of drugs for high-risk patients. For more information, read the article in the Wall Street Journal and see the full report here.

Finally, for an excellent overview of the “fiscal cliff,” see a new brief from Bloomberg Government, detailing implications for our economy and some insight into what our next Congress may look like.

Sincerely,

Mary Woolley