Tag Archives: Rally for Medical Research

Working Together for Research

By Margaret Foti, PhD, MD (h.c.), Chief Executive Officer, American Association for Cancer Research

fotiEach year, the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) is pleased to support and highlight May as National Cancer Research Month. Throughout this special month, the AACR celebrates the accomplishments of the scientific community, advocates for funding increases for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI), and spotlights the need for continued improvements in patient care.

There’s no doubt that tremendous progress has been made against cancer. People who have been diagnosed with cancer are living longer today than ever before. The five-year survival rate among adults who have had cancer (all cancers combined) is about 68 percent—an increase of 19 percent since 1975. For all childhood cancers combined, the five-year survival rate is 83 percent, an increase of 30 percent since 1975.

But much remains to be done. Almost 1,600 people in the United States die from cancer every day. The toll in medical costs, lost productivity, and human suffering is immense and will in fact grow as the “baby boomer” generation gets older. Continue reading →

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: The Congress of Today and the Congress of the Future

Dear Research Advocate:

With only eleven days until the end of the fiscal year, Congress has yet to pass a continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government past September 30. The House is expected to vote on, and pass, a bill that does not include funding to administer Obamacare as part of their “CR;” the Senate and the President will not agree, thus almost certainly forcing a government shutdown.

The issue of what to do about sequestration is almost certainly not going to be resolved as part of negotiating this short-term CR. That means we must continue to fight for action, and there has been a flurry of advocacy on Capitol Hill. This included, but was certainly not limited to the inaugural class of our Postdoctoral Advocacy Academy, who visited their Members’ offices to share stories of how sequestration has impacted their work and careers. And yesterday, Research!America’s Chair, former Congressman John E. Porter, gave the “go get ‘em” charge at the Rally for Medical Research Hill Day. Thanks to the leadership of the American Association of Cancer Research (AACR), the day attracted more than 150 organizations, with more than 225 survivors and other advocates from more than 40 states descending on Washington. Also this week, the AACR released their third annual Cancer Report, demonstrating the tremendous return on the nation’s investment in basic research. Continue reading →

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: A “dark future for science?”

Dear Research Advocate:

Although Congress officially returns next week, many Members are back in Washington as the debate about the crisis in Syria commands center stage. Members also face looming fiscal deadlines, with only nine legislative days scheduled in September to act on those and a large backlog of other legislation. Given all this, it is not hard to predict how Congress will handle the long- or short-term budget resolutions, debt ceiling, the future of sequestration, tax and entitlement reform, and a myriad of other interconnected items: They will put off decision-making.

Thus a continuing resolution (“CR”), extending FY13 budgets, looks likely, once again kicking the can down the road and, in doing so, kicking patients and researchers alike into the ditch. And things will be worse than the terrible FY13 numbers, given that the Budget Control Act mandates less discretionary spending in FY14 than in FY13 — almost certainly prompting agencies to further decrease their spending while waiting for what might well be a still-lower final appropriations bill (more details here.)

This adds up to “a dark future for science” according to NIH Director Francis Collins. He and other leaders of science believe that the nation is increasingly underprepared to meet existing — not to mention emerging — health threats. Now is the time to hold Congress accountable for avoiding a dark future by making your voice heard. Click here to send a message to your representatives that medical research at NIH, CDC and our other health research agencies must be championed in the upcoming fiscal debates — not cut, not put on hold, but prioritized, championed. After participating online, magnify your voice as a broad coalition joins forces on September 18 to participate in the American Association for Cancer Research’s Hill Day, urging Congress to champion the National Institutes of Health. Continue reading →

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: Time for a New Tax Code

Dear Research Advocate:

Our elected representatives know they must make hard tax and entitlement reform decisions, and, for the sake of the nation, ensure those decisions foster economic growth and societal progress. Part of that equation is federal funding for medical research sufficient to capitalize on unprecedented scientific opportunity and tackle urgent threats like Alzheimer’s Disease. As I’ve highlighted before, a majority of Americans say they are willing to pay additional taxes — $1 more per week (which amounts to approximately $4.4 billion annually) — if they knew those dollars were funding medical research. The public is on our side with their wallets as well as their hearts and minds!

Speaking of taxes, the Senate Finance Committee is working on a tax reform package, and Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) and Ranking Member Orrin Hatch (R-UT) are soliciting comments from their Senate colleagues to rebuild the tax code starting from a blank state. One component that definitely should be included is the R&D tax credit. This credit is a proven engine of economic development that spurs innovation. It creates jobs and supports critical medical research that otherwise would not be conducted. However, as it stands, the credit must be reauthorized each year. This is not only absurdly inefficient, it is counterproductive since the uncertainty it creates reduces the credit’s stimulative effect on R&D. First and foremost, of course, it is critical that the R&D tax credit be included in the tax package, but it is also extremely important to make the credit permanent to amplify it as a catalyst to economic and medical progress. Click here to view the letter Research!America sent in support of the tax credit, and click here to urge your senators to work with the committee to include the R&D tax credit in the tax package and finally make it permanent. 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 →

Member Spotlight: The American Society for Tropical Medicine and Hygiene

Karen Goraleski

Karen Goraleski

By ASTMH Executive Director Karen A. Goraleski

The American Society for Tropical Medicine and Hygiene is an international organization comprised of scientists, clinicians and program professionals who work to promote global health through the prevention and control of infectious diseases. ASTMH recognizes that global health is America’s health and America’s health is global health. It is vitally important for the broad research community – from basic through implementation and evaluation – to actively support a vibrant and innovative research enterprise. Everyone benefits from a strong U.S. investment in research. Continue reading →

You can’t sequester cancer; cutting back on research is a deadly mistake

By Robert Weiner and Patricia Berg, PhD

You can’t sequester cancer. You can only hurt the research to treat and prevent the diseases, and stop the treatments themselves.

That is the message of 18,000 scientists gathered for the American Association for Cancer Research’s annual convention in Washington. A rally for medical research with those thousands of scientists — usually wonky researchers poring over their microscopes — was held on the grounds of the Carnegie Library across from the Washington Convention Center. In rhythm to drumbeats, the scientists became political advocates as they chanted after each speaker, “More progress! More hope! More life!” Continue reading →

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: A thorn-laden rose

Dear Research Advocate,

The President’s budget is out and it’s a mixed bag. First, the good news. NSF was given a significant funding boost, $593M over 2012 levels, NIH funding was increased by $470M, and AHRQ, via budget trade-offs, looks to have been boosted by $64M. The increases are from FY12 to FY14, since the President’s budget replaces sequestration in a different way than either Congressional body (see more below). The not so good news in the President’s budget is that other health research agencies did not fare well. The CDC budget was cut deeply, especially prevention programs. FDA was essentially flat -funded. And entitlement-reform may pose a challenge to innovation.

The different ways the three budgets, President, Senate and House, deal with sequestration is symptomatic of the continuing failure to reach agreement on anything resembling comprehensive legislation, including so-called “grand bargains.” The fact that there is so much attention to medical research in the President’s budget, as well as on the floor of the Senate recently, and from a number of Members of Congress, speaks to the progress the research advocacy community is making in bringing medical research to the forefront. But success to date has not diminished the need for heightened advocacy for public health and social sciences research, nor the imperative of carefully evaluating the full consequences of changes to entitlements. The three budgets deal with entitlements in different ways, but with similar ill-effect when it comes to innovation. There is no question that we need tax and entitlement reform, and no question that sequestration must be eliminated; however, we cannot thrive as a nation or succeed at deficit reduction if entitlement reforms come at the expense of private sector innovation.  See our statement on the President’s budget here.

Speaking of social science research — so clearly under fire —  it is not too late to RSVP to a Capitol Hill briefing we are co-hosting tomorrow on economic research. There is a terrific lineup of speakers.

I know many of you attended the Rally for Medical Research on Monday here in Washington,  a coalition effort led by the AACR. Thousands of like-minded research advocates and a wonderful array of speakers, including our board chair, The Honorable John Porter, gathered to crank up the volume for research. In his remarks, Mr. Porter urged advocates to get fighting mad or we risk continued cuts from Congress. Review his remarks here; then, take a moment to participate in the Rally’s on-going text messaging campaign to urge Congress to assign a high priority to medical research. You can view press coverage of the event and the full list of speakers. During the event, social media attention was strong — messaging trended #2 globally on Twitter.  That’s the level of volume and attention we must continue to maintain if we want to see a happy ending to budget negotiations.  Please do your part!

More than 50 Nobel laureates are doing their part; they have joined forces to send a letter to Congress urging them to fund, rather than freeze or cut, research and development. In the letter, the Laureates cite their deep concern over reduced funding levels and the negative impact this will have on the next generation of scientists and ultimately, upon our nation’s economic vitality. It’s a good reminder that the full science community is in this battle together.  Take a moment now to echo their message by urging your representative to sign on the Markey-McKinley letter calling for a $1.5B boost to NIH funding. Click here to see the list of current signers. If your representative is on the list, be sure to thank them for standing up for research. If they haven’t signed-on yet, click here to send them a message.

On Monday, we released our latest national poll, focused on chronic pain and drug addiction. Surprisingly, only 18% of the poll respondents believe chronic pain is a major health problem, yet two-thirds know someone who has sought relief from chronic pain. Huge majorities are concerned about  abuse or misuse of prescription medications; the need for better understanding of how to address chronic pain literally cries out for research. You can view our media release here.

Sincerely,

Mary Woolley

Rally for Medical Research: Building a grassroots movement to make medical research a higher national priority


Thousands of scientists, patients and research advocates gathered on the grounds of the Carnegie Library in Washington, DC, on April 8 to unite behind a call for increased funding for medical research. The Rally for Medical Research was organized by the American Association for Cancer Research in conjunction with their annual meeting and was supported by more than 200 partnering organizations — including Research!America. The program featured statements from patients and their families, scientists, policy makers, and research advocates. Cokie Roberts of ABC News and NPR, cancer survivor and research advocate, was the master of ceremonies. Continue reading →

Watch the Rally for Medical Research

Just because you’re not in Washington, DC doesn’t mean you can’t still watch the Rally for Medical Research! Cokie Roberts of National Public Radio will emcee the event featuring members of Congress, cancer survivors like actress Maura Tierney (ER, NewsRadio), leaders from the scientific community including NIH Director Francis Collins, MD, PhD, and  Research!America Chair, Hon. John Edward Porter.

Here’s the video:

Take a moment and contact your Congressperson and Senators today, tell them to make medical research a higher national priority!

Follow updates from the Rally on Twitter via @ResearchAmerica or #RallyMedRes.

Medical research is at risk

April is National Cancer Control Month, and there is no better time to step up and advocate for lifesaving medical research. A recent report from “PBS NewsHour” highlights the crippling effects of sequestration on funding for cancer research. The story of the Riggins laboratory is just one example of labs all over the country having to slow or stop promising research due to a lack of funding.

According to the American Cancer Society’s 2013 report, more than half a million Americans are expected to die from cancer this year alone. 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

One week away: the Rally for Medical Research

Rally For Medical ResearchNext Monday, April 8, is the Rally for Medical Research! Speakers at the rally will include Research!America Chair the Honorable John Edward Porter, Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Ranking Member on the Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee and Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Ranking Member on the House Budget Committee as well as actress and breast cancer survivor Maura Tierney (best known for her roles on NewsRadio & ER) and many others!

If the medical research community advocates hard enough and loud enough, we may be able to turn the tide on cuts to research funding. As recently reported in the Washington Post, sequestration cuts can be countered if we urge policy makers to make research a higher national priority. Now, more than ever, we must make it clear to our legislators that federal research funding is critical to the health and well-being of Americans.

If you can’t make it to the rally, you can watch the event live on the web, contact your representatives in Congress and write a letter to the editor for your local paper to support medical research. Resources to help you write and call your Senators and Congressmen or to write a letter to the editor are available in the Rally’s toolkit.

A special thanks to Maura Tierney, Rep. Chris Van Hollen and Rep. Rosa DeLauro for their support of the Rally and medical research!

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

Join the Rally for Medical Research on April 8, 2013

The Rally for Medical Research will be held on Monday, April 8 at 11:00 a.m. in Washington, DC, on the steps of the Carnegie Library. Join Research!America and more than 100 other organizations to call on our nation’s policymakers to make lifesaving medical research a higher national priority. With the support of researchers, patients and advocates, the Rally for Medical Research is a tremendous opportunity to send a powerful, coordinated message to Capitol Hill.

If you can’t make it to DC for the Rally, you can take specific actions on April 8 such as:

  • Send an email to or call congressional offices,
  • Tweet members of Congress with a message or post on the member’s Facebook page,
  • Write letters to the editor and place op-eds in newspapers across the country before and during the week of April 8, and
  • Gather a group of individuals to schedule a meeting with their members of Congress’ district office.

You can also contact your Congressional representatives and inquire about upcoming town hall events or meetings in your district during the upcoming recess. With passage of yet another continuing resolution, Congress has established funding for the remainder of FY13 without reversing the senseless across-the-board spending cuts known as sequestration. It is vital that we speak out now to advocate for FY14 funding levels that reflect the importance of research and a commitment to federal agencies like NIH, CDC, NSF, AHRQ and FDA.