Tag Archives: research advocate

Research!America President and CEO Mary Woolley tells University at Buffalo School of Medicine Graduates to Engage in Advocacy

Woolley addresses the class of 2013. Photo courtesy of Sandy Kicman, University at Buffalo.

As commencement speaker, Research!America President and CEO  Mary Woolley challenged University at Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences graduates to step outside of their comfort zone and become advocates for research.

Drawing on her own personal experiences, Woolley told the nearly 150 graduates who received their degrees on May 3 how research has dramatically affected the way in which medicine is practiced—including research that proved smoking was harmful and research that revealed differences in cardiovascular health in men versus women. “It is the very function of research to show us where we’ve been wrong; to upend conventional wisdom and muster the evidence to break new ground” in medicine, Woolley noted.  Continue reading →

Advertisements

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: Don’t Settle for the “New Normal”

Dear Research Advocate,

Yesterday, the House passed a budget for the remainder of the fiscal year that includes this year’s cuts from sequestration along with an additional one percent across-the-board cut.  The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration, where we are likely to see higher funding levels than the House version, but with sequestration still in place. Congress seems anxious to avoid the brinksmanship and the government shutdown threats that have characterized past debates. While the less rancorous environment surrounding the CR is a welcome change, the complacency around sequestration is not.  As research advocates, we cannot let these cuts stand.

Sequestration isn’t a one-year cut, it is ten years worth of cuts, none of which are evidence-based.  We may be looking at the early stages of an elusive “grand bargain” as the president meets with Republican senators to discuss tax and entitlement reform – two key pieces for solving the deficit puzzle. Eliminating sequestration must be part of that bargain. In addition, we must ensure that funding for biomedical and health research, including the resources FDA needs to do its job, are assigned a high priority in fiscal year 2014. That should be reflected in the budget resolution and obviously in the FY 2014 funding bill.

None of this will be easy. Working together, advocates have raised the profile of medical research with policymakers and the media. We need to turn the volume up louder yet on it, while cultivating more champions in Congress.  Continuing to engage the media is part of that equation.  Some of the largest news outlets in the country including Fox News, NBC, and CBS, and a number that are new to our issue including Al Jazeera quoted Research!America when writing about sequestration’s impact on science. The Economist published a thoughtful piece about how cutting American health research will harm the world. Industry is adding its voice with an op-ed in Forbes coauthored by three legendary executives, including Research!America board member and former NIH director, Dr. Elias Zerhouni, Marc Tessier-Lavigne of The Rockefeller University and P. Roy Vagelos, Chairman of Regeneron Pharmaceuticals. I also want to highlight a letter that Dr. Herb Pardes, Executive Vice Chairman at New York Presbyterian and Research!America board member, sent to the President.  He captures the very themes that will anchor our advocacy going forward.

At the same time as policymakers were cutting federally funded research dollars, researchers were delivering another astonishing breakthrough – the real possibility of a functional cure for HIV. This remarkable achievement, bringing us a step closer to a world free from the scourge of HIV/AIDS, would not have been possible were it not for NIH funding that supported the research and development of anti-retroviral drugs. The CDC is also in the news, with troubling warnings about the spread of “nightmare bacteria” – germs that can be deadly because they are resistant to traditional medicines.  As CDC works to track and halt the spread of these germs and fulfill the numerous other public health functions for which they are responsible, the agency is not only contending with sequestration. Over the past several years, CDC has been subject to some of the deepest cuts of any health agency. Our Nation is fast approaching a tipping point.  Are public health and safety and the progress borne of medical innovation priorities, or not?

As many of you already know our annual events are coming up next week! Please join us for the Annual Meeting (free of charge to members) to hear remarks from Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-MA), a freshman member of Congress who is already championing research, and also John Crowley, CEO of Amicus Therapeutics. I hope to see you all at our Annual Advocacy Awards Dinner later that evening – seats are selling fast, but still available.

Sincerely,

Mary Woolley

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: Mars today, a cure for cancer tomorrow?

Dear Research Advocate,

American achievement continues to astound. This week we watched NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory send one of the most advanced space exploration vehicles ever constructed to a planet hundreds of millions of miles away from Earth and elegantly deliver it to the planet’s surface. Mars today, why not a cure for our nation’s deadliest diseases tomorrow? As advocates, we cannot take no for answer when it comes to assuring we have the resources, policies and determination we need to defeat disease and disability. Why should we be reluctant to demand that this be a national priority? As Margaret Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

Meanwhile, astounding avoidance of decision-making in D.C. The issues aren’t going away, however. In response to attention driven mostly by the defense community, reporters are picking up the sequestration story, leading the public and policy makers to listen too. On Tuesday, President Obama signed into law the Sequestration Transparency Act of 2012, requiring the president to outline how the sequester would be applied across the federal government. By mid-September, we will have a better sense of the specific impact of these across-the-board cuts on federal agencies and research for health. There is little reason to think that research will be exempt from sequestration. So it is dangerous to be either complacent (“sequestration won’t happen”) or discouraged (“we can’t make any difference on this”). I’ve heard both arguments in the past week from members of Research!America; how can it be that there is such a sense of futility and frustration in our community? Consider that Margaret Mead maxim again and reach out to your elected officials with this message: We need cures, not cuts.

Yes we need cures, and we need prevention, too. This is made clear in a letter to the editor published in The Washington Post by Karl Moeller, the executive director of the Campaign for Public Health Foundation. The letter is in response to the recent op-ed about the need for additional research to prevent gun-related injuries, research that CDC has been prohibited from doing. As advocates, we must remind Congress that micromanagement of research, at any level, is a denial of progress.

Denial of the importance of research, is unfortunately, happening all too often. This week, we distributed a press release highlighting an excuse we’ve heard from some candidates about their failure to complete our voter education survey: “I don’t have time” to respond. Patients – indeed all of us – should take exception to that excuse. We must insist that they share their views on research. Patients can’t and won’t settle for less than making research for health a priority. Patient voices can be heard in a compelling new video about why research for health matters. My thanks to our Your Candidates – Your Health partners at the American Heart Association for producing this video montage of heart and stroke survivors talking about the value of research. It is already up on our website. Please take a moment to watch the video and share with your networks. Then create your own, and send it our way!

Sincerely,

Mary Woolley