Tag Archives: Rice University

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

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A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: “No science; no growth”

Dear Research Advocate,

Sandy was a terrifying October surprise. The devastation in New York and New Jersey is extensive, and it will take a long time to rebuild and to heal. It’s a reminder that not everything is about the election. That said, it is impossible not to think about a major election theme — the role of government — and also to think about climate change, one of many science topics not being discussed in this election season. Yet decisions involving the future of science will be made by those elected. That’s why we need to turn up the advocacy volume as loud as possible after the election, when the lame-duck Congress and the administration, closely watched and influenced by those who are elected November 6, will work on a “grand deal” to avert the fiscal cliff. Even if nothing substantive is decided until the first quarter of 2013, the groundwork will be laid when the lame-duck Congress returns on November 13. Will you be heard then?

We are saving a virtual seat for you during the November 13-16 joint Week of Advocacy. Please join the growing list of partners working to make the biomedical and health research community’s Week of Advocacy a success — learn more on our conference call on Friday (details below) and/or contact edehoney@researchamerica.org to become a partner. As you will see at www.saveresearch.org, we have produced an Advocacy Toolkit with a variety of resources including op-ed and LTE templates, editable scripts for phone calls to congressional offices, messaging points, social media messages, and a grassroots alert.

***A conference call about the Week of Advocacy will be held on Friday, November 2 at 3 p.m. EDT. Please dial in at 877-355-0068, using the code 64054826. We need your ideas and your participation — please join the call. RSVP to alefever@researchamerica.org. ***

“No science; no growth.” This was the message of an important op-ed in The New York Times by Dr. Neal Lane, professor at Rice University, former NSF director and science advisor to President Clinton. Follow Dr. Lane’s lead and write an op-ed or letter to the editor for publication during our Week of Advocacy!

Science has not, in fact, been growing, explaining in part why the economy is so sluggish. Last week, we released our annual U.S. Investment in Health Research report. It has garnered widespread and continuing news coverage inside and outside the Beltway. For a glimpse of how this report helps make the local case, see a story from Examiner.com that explores how dwindling NIH funding could impede plans for economic growth in Alabama. The Burrill Report is also covering the report in a podcast that will be available Friday at this link. Clearly, cutting funding for research is not in the best interest of the nation overall, or of states looking to power local economies with biotech research and innovation. No one wins if science is cut!

Be sure to vote!

Sincerely,

Mary Woolley