Tag Archives: STEM

A Wish List for the 114th Congress to Consider

By Caleph B. Wilson, Ph.D., a biomedical researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, logistics director of the National Science Policy Group, science communicator and STEM outreach advocate. Follow him on Twitter as @HeyDrWilson.

CalephWith the 114th Congress underway, the scientific community is looking forward to sharing new research breakthroughs and advocating for STEM during a series of congressional visits to Capitol Hill. In some instances, scientists and trainees will assist writing congressional briefs and give testimony to House and Senate committees on science, technology and health.

While Congress is considering science policy initiatives, positions and funding, there are a few things in the early-career scientist “wish list” that would make improvements and maintain the United States’ leading position in the scientific enterprise.

Throughout 2014, early-career scientists discussed specific issues in science policy groups, on social media and in articles that need to be addressed. These are some of the highlights of the conversations that have been put in a “Wish List” that hopefully Congress and policymakers will strongly consider.

  • National Science Foundation (NSF) and National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding that is predictable and keeps pace with inflation.

In the early 1990s, the NIH budget increased dramatically. However, over the last 10 years the NIH budget has flat-lined and even decreased at times. Unfortunately, the budget has not kept pace with inflation and rising costs of executing experiments. With changes in the economy and the sweeping budget cuts that came in with sequestration, government agencies, institutions and investigators can better plan with predictable budget appropriations that keep pace with scientific opportunity. Continue reading →

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Research!America Honors Congressmen Frank Wolf and Chaka Fattah for Advancing Medical Innovation to Save Lives and Strengthen the Economy

Reps. Wolf and Fattah to Receive the Edwin C. Whitehead Award for Medical Research Advocacy at Research!America’s Advocacy Awards Dinner on March 12

ALEXANDRIA, Va.February 12, 2014-Reps. Frank Wolf (R-VA) and Chaka Fattah (D-PA) will receive the Edwin C. Whitehead Award for Medical Research Advocacy for their leadership and unwavering commitment to supporting policies that promote federal and private sector medical research and innovation. Reps. Wolf and Fattah have spearheaded efforts to create a legislative and regulatory climate conducive to medical innovation.

“Representatives Wolf and Fattah are exceptional champions for research,” said Research!America Chair John Edward Porter. “They have worked vigorously to increase funding for research, support policies that ignite public and private sector innovation, maintain our global competitiveness, and help patients and their families struggling with costly and debilitating diseases.”

Wolf is currently a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee, presides as chairman of the Commerce, Justice, Science Subcommittee, and is a member of the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and State and Foreign Operations subcommittees. Throughout his distinguished tenure in Congress, Wolf has worked to advance the state of science and R&D, and he recognizes the role innovation plays in our nation’s economy, health and international competitiveness. Notably, he was a founder of the “Rising Above the Gathering Storm” Commission which sparked a national effort to bolster federal science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education and R&D programs. These efforts culminated in the enactment of the first America COMPETES Act in 2007 to increase public-private partnerships and provide assistance to innovators throughout the country. Wolf also supported the act’s reauthorization in 2010. He is an active member of several caucuses, including research and development, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and multiple sclerosis. Continue reading →

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 →

Sequestration is not a Smart Strategy for Reducing the Deficit, Say Small Business Leaders

Most Say Federally Funded Basic Research is Important to Private Sector Innovation

Alexandria, Va.—February 26, 2013— More than two-thirds (67%) of small business leaders say basic research funded by the federal government is important to private sector innovation, according to a new nationwide survey of small business owners/operators commissioned by Research!America. In addition, nearly half (45%) say medical research funding to universities and other non-governmental research institutions should not be cut as part of sequestration, and a plurality (40%) say that such across-the-board cuts are not a smart strategy for reducing the deficit.

The survey findings also reveal that small businesses support the federal government’s role in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education. Seventy percent of respondents say STEM education is important to the future of their business and the federal government should increase funding for those programs.

“It is striking that small business owners, the backbone of our economy comprising nearly 80% of business leaders nationwide, strongly value federal support for research and recognize the major role it plays in spurring private sector growth,” said Research!America President and CEO Mary Woolley.

A majority of respondents (85%) say it’s very important or somewhat important to reduce the federal debt and deficit and to cut federal corporate and individual tax rates (81%). Among the top strategies for deficit reduction are entitlement reform (25%), eliminating targeted corporate tax breaks (22%) and closing tax loopholes (21%). Seventy-seven percent say the rising cost of health care, a major chunk of our national debt, is important to their businesses, a concern that mirrors other components of the economy as well as individuals. A huge majority, 80%, say it’s important for the government to support research that focuses on making our health care system more efficient.

The concern of small business owners is strikingly evident as it relates to our nation’s world leadership status, with 90% describing research and development as important to our global competitiveness.

“Small business owners understand the critical role of federal government in giving small businesses a launching pad that includes the stimulus of innovation based on federally supported research and development,” added Woolley. “Deep cuts to medical research funding would be detrimental to small businesses, our nation’s economy and global competitiveness if policy makers allow the sequester to take effect.”

The nationwide survey of small business owners/operators was conducted by Zogby Analytics for Research!America. Based on a confidence interval of 95%, the margin of error for the panel of 203 business owners is +/-7.0 percentage points.

To view the poll, visit: www.researchamerica.org/uploads/Feb2013smallbizsurvey.pdf

About Research!America polls

Research!America began commissioning polls in 1992 in an effort to understand public support for medical, health and scientific research. The results of Research!America’s polls have proven invaluable to our alliance of member organizations and, in turn, to the fulfillment of our mission to make research to improve health a higher national priority. In response to growing usage and demand, Research!America has expanded its portfolio, which includes state, national and issue-specific polling. Poll data is available by request or at www.researchamerica.org.

About Research!America

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 representing 125 million Americans. Visit www.researchamerica.org.

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Statement from Research!America President and CEO Mary Woolley on the State of the Union Address

February 13, 2013

Research!America applauds President Obama for underscoring medical research as a national priority, along with defense and education. We’re gratified that he stressed the brutal impact of sequestration, across-the-board cuts, to medical research and reminded the country of goals within the reach of science, such as the promise of an “AIDS-free generation” and cures for deadly and debilitating diseases like Alzheimer’s. Issuing a clear challenge to the nation and the Congress, he spoke of the need to increase investments in science and innovation to a level “not seen since the Space Race.”  We agree that educating young people in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) is a necessity to maintain a robust research ecosystem that fosters ingenuity and creativity and strengthens our global competitiveness. The president’s emphasis on STEM and medical research reflects the sentiments of large majorities of the American public and should not only register bipartisan applause lines but translate into the elimination of sequestration and the launch of a new Moon Shot befitting the global R&D leadership of our nation.

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A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: Stop Sequestration, Take Action TODAY

Dear Research Advocate,

The debate over how to stop sequestration rages on, with the president weighing in this week even as some influential Members of Congress hold fast to a do-nothing strategy. Now it’s time for us all to speak out! Along with our partners, we are pulling out the stops TODAY with a coordinated Day of Action. In just 10 minutes you can call and email your representatives, as well as congressional leadership. Then ask everyone in your networks — professional and personal — to do the same. Use this link to find our e-action alert and click here for access to congressional emails and phone numbers. Congress pays attention to volumes of communication; act now to assure that they know that sequestration is no way to drive the economy or improve health.

Research!America Board members and former Congressmen John Porter and Kweisi Mfume are speaking out with a timely op-ed in The HillThe bottom line? Our nation must find its way to a fiscally sustainable path without sacrificing programs that improve our health and our economic prosperity. Former Governor John Engler, CEO of Business Roundtable (BRT), is calling for a pro-growth solution to the nation’s deficit; he points out that failure to act, and moving from one fiscal crisis to another, is counterproductive to sustained growth. A new report from BRT also speaks to the importance of our nation continuing to invest in STEM education and federal R&D.

Until the sequestration battle is resolved, likely at the 11th hour as usual, the media will be hungry for stories and examples of how sequestration could affect your community or your institutions. The Boston Globe has been providing ongoing coverage of impact in the greater Boston area, but media outlets in other parts of the country have yet to follow suit. It’s time to pitch your story to the media! Fortunately, compelling data and persuasive arguments for your op-ed, article or letter to the editor are easy to come by. United for Medical Research has just released a new report detailing what’s at stake: more than 20,000 jobs and $3 billion in economic output. Science Works for U.S. has put together an excellent video resource featuring research leaders from across the country speaking out about sequestration. See also this new report from the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, providing chapter and verse on how federal funding pays off.

Media attention to State of the Union address on February 12 provides another opportunity to emphasize sequestration’s potentially devastating impact on research. Join Research!America and the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network for a pre-SOTU Twitter chat on Monday, February 11, 1 to 2 p.m. ET. Visit @ResearchAmerica and @ACSCAN on Twitter to follow me and ACSCAN President Chris Hansen as we discuss important facts about sequestration and answer questions from participants. Use the hashtag #curesnotcuts in your tweets to join the conversation.

In case you missed it, Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) delivered a speech extolling the cost-controlling, as well as healing power, of research and called for cutting unnecessary red tape and for the repeal of the medical device tax. He described the federal government’s vital role in supporting basic medical research “appropriate.” But his remarks also called for “re-prioritizing” existing research spending, away from the social sciences. His remarks make it clear that advocates have our work cut out to connect the dots between social science research and controlling health care costs and saving lives.

Dr. Carolyn Clancy is stepping down from AHRQ after a distinguished 10-year record of improving health care delivery and ensuring that medical providers use up to date evidence-based practices. Read our press statement here. NSF Director Dr. Subra Suresh is also leaving his position. Dr. Suresh has been instrumental in fostering interdisciplinary collaborations throughout NSF and has worked to broaden participation in NSF-supported activities. You can read our press statement here. The Board of Research!America and I salute them for their outstanding public service, dedication to research and regular participation in our forums and other programs.

Sincerely,

Mary Woolley

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: Bipartisan support is essential to science

Dear Research Advocate,

With the world listening, President Obama acknowledged the importance of science, STEM education and research to our nation’s economic competitiveness and, more generally, to the future our children face. Many Republicans have voiced similar views. While it is heartening that policy makers on both sides of the aisle believe in research, they also must cut dollars from the federal budget. The president noted this in his speech and also mentioned the need to tame rising health care costs. The intersection of research, rising health care costs, and deficit reduction is the exact spot where advocates need to jump in. As policy makers grapple with how to control health care costs, will they treat funding for biomedical and health research as part of the problem or part of the solution? As they consider deficit reduction, will the notion of investing in research as a job-producing, industry-sustaining, economic growth strategy even enter the discussions, or will research dollars be swept away as part of sequestration or ever more stringent caps on discretionary spending? The answer to both of those questions is the same: It’s up to us.

If you haven’t weighed in, consider it D-day. If you haven’t tried to recruit new advocates, now’s the time. Many, many more Americans must speak up and let their federal representatives know that medical progress is vitally important. Many, many more of us need to make the case that research is a deficit reduction strategy and essential if we are going to tackle the direct and indirect costs of diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. We must convince policy makers that while it may seem easier to make across-the-board cuts than to prioritize, this is counterproductive. Our polling shows that Americans don’t want the unintended consequences of across-the-board cuts. And they want biomedical and health research to be a priority. The possibility of cuts that incapacitate our health research agencies is real. Meanwhile, countries in Europe and Asia are continuing to boost investment. Funding rates for federally funded biomedical science in Germany, for example, are above 25% — quite a gap from the NIH, which is funding at historically low rates right now. All of our collective efforts now in these next few weeks — or the lack thereof — will have dramatic and lasting consequences.

An advantage we have and must maintain in the fight to save research is that support remains a bipartisan issue, championed by Republicans and Democrats alike. And that bipartisan support is long-standing, with several former Members of Congress continuing their leadership. Research!America Chair John Porter was highlighted as a Republican champion of science during his tenure in the House in a recent article in The Atlantic. Last week, former Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-TX) wrote an opinion piece pointing out that more than half of post-WWII economic growth can be attributed to technological innovation. Cite that fact in an email to the leaders of Congress, who are in the driver’s seat right now; send a copy to your representatives. You can personalize and send an email to members by clicking here.

Sincerely,

Mary Woolley

Majority of Americans Say the New Congress Should Take Immediate Action to Expand Medical Research

New Poll Data Summary reveals concerns among Americans about medical progress even in tight fiscal environment

Alexandria, Va.January 9, 2013America Speaks, Volume 13, a compilation of public opinion polls commissioned by Research!America, features timely data about Americans’ views on issues related to biomedical and health research. A majority of Americans (72%) say the new Congress and the President should take action to expand medical research within the first 100 days of the 113th Congress.  Public support for increased government spending on medical research holds particular relevance as Congress considers whether to further delay, eliminate or permit “sequestration,” a budget cutting process that – if it moves forward – would mean drastic cuts in funding for medical research.

“Americans will be looking closely at the actions of the new Congress to see whether lawmakers support policies that will accelerate research and scientific discovery,” said Research!America Chair John Edward Porter. “We’re on the brink of finding new treatments and cures for many deadly and debilitating illnesses. Congress must act to ensure that funding for research is sufficient to address current and emerging health threats.”

Most Americans believe accelerated investments in medical research should be a priority, yet nearly 60% say elected officials in Washington are not paying close attention to combating the many deadly diseases that afflict Americans. An overwhelming majority of Americans (83%) also believe that investing in medical innovation has a role in creating jobs and fueling the economy.

When asked about stagnant federal funding levels for research and the impact to science and technology, a wide majority (85%) said they were concerned.

Americans also expressed concerns about U.S. global competitiveness in the near future. Less than half (41%) believe the U.S. will be the world leader in science and technology in the year 2020. In addition, almost half (48%) do not believe the U.S. has the best health care system in the world.

“Consistently, our polls have shown that Americans value research and believe it’s part of the solution to what ails us,” said Research!America President and CEO Mary Woolley. “The return on investment is demonstrated in medical breakthroughs that have made diseases that were considered a death sentence into treatable conditions.”

Twenty years ago, AIDS ranked as the number-one health concern among Americans. Since then, research has saved countless lives and continues to drive progress. The number one health concern in 2012 was the cost of health care.

Among notable highlights in the booklet:

  • 78% of Americans believe that it is important that the U.S. work to improve health globally through research and innovation.
  • 70% of Americans believe that the government should encourage science, technology, mathematics and engineering (STEM) careers.
  • Nearly half (48%) believe government investment in health research for military veterans and service members is not enough.
  • 66% of Americans are willing to share personal health information to advance medical research if appropriate privacy protections were used.
  • 75% say it’s important to conduct research to eliminate health disparities.
  • Only 1 in 5 (19%) know research is conducted in every state.

To view America Speaks, Volume 13, visit: http://www.researchamerica.org/uploads/AmericaSpeaksV13.pdf

Research!America began commissioning polls in 1992 in an effort to understand public support for medical, health and scientific research. The results of Research!America’s polls have proven invaluable to our alliance of member organizations and, in turn, to the fulfillment of our mission to make research to improve health a higher national priority. In response to growing usage and demand, Research!America has expanded its portfolio, which includes state, national and issue-specific polling. Poll data is available by request or at www.researchamerica.org.

Online polls are conducted with a sample size of 800-1,052 adults (age 18+) and a maximum theoretical sampling error of +/- 3.2%. Data are demographically representative of adult U.S. residents. Polling in this publication was conducted by Zogby Analytics and Charlton Research Company.

About Research America

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 representing 125 million Americans. Visit www.researchamerica.org.

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Majority of Americans Doubt Congress and White House Can Resolve Budget Problems and Avoid Fiscal Cliff

Poll Reveals Deep Concerns Among Americans about Impact of Spending Cuts to Medical Research

Alexandria, Va.—December 13, 2012—Nearly 60% of Americans are skeptical that Congress and the White House will reach an agreement that will avoid the fiscal cliff, according to a new national public opinion poll commissioned by Research!America.  More than 80% of Republicans, nearly 40% of Democrats and 65% of Independents say they are “not too confident” or “not at all confident” current negotiations will result in a deal.  The findings reveal growing doubt among many Americans that Congress and the Administration will be able to make a deal that would avoid tax increases for most Americans and major funding cuts for federal agencies, including those that are responsible for funding medical research.

“Congress and the Administration must make bold decisions to address our nation’s deficit, but cutting funding for research should not be one of them,” said Research!America President and CEO Mary Woolley. “We cannot afford to drain the research pipeline as other countries challenge our world leadership in science and innovation.”

An overwhelming majority of Americans (83%) say that medical research is important to reducing health care costs. And an even larger percentage (87%)  believe that it is important that our nation support research that focuses on improving how our health care system is functioning.

Even in a challenging fiscal environment, Americans continue to place a high priority on biomedical and health research. Upon learning that the percentage of government spending allocated for biomedical and health research is roughly 1.5%, almost half of Americans (48%) believed that it was not enough. In fact, 54% would be willing to pay $1 per week more in taxes if they were certain that all of the money would be spent for additional medical research. This comes as no surprise, as more than half (55%) of Americans do not believe that the U.S. is making enough progress in medical research.

“Our polling underscores support for a stronger investment in research — there’s no doubt that people want a cure, sooner rather than later, for Alzheimer’s, diabetes, cancer and so many other diseases and disabilities,” added Woolley. “In a time when difficult decisions have to be made, Americans overwhelmingly believe research and innovation should be prioritized.”

Other poll highlights include:

  • More than three-quarters of Americans (78%) say that it is important that the U.S. work to improve health globally through research and innovation.
  • Nearly 70% of Americans believe that the federal government should increase support for programs and policies that would increase the number of young Americans who pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
  • 66% of Americans, say they would be willing to share personal health information to advance medical research assuming that appropriate privacy protections were used.
  • 68% of Americans say it’s important that the federal research and development tax credit is made permanent.

The National Public Opinion Poll was conducted online in December 2012 by JZ Analytics for Research!America. The poll had a sample size of 1,000, with a theoretical sampling error of +/- 3.2%. To view the poll, visit: http://www.researchamerica.org/uploads/December2012pollslides.pdf

About the National Public Opinion Poll

Research!America began commissioning polls in 1992 in an effort to understand public support for medical, health and scientific research. The results of Research!America’s polls have proven invaluable to our alliance of member organizations and, in turn, to the fulfillment of our mission to make research to improve health a higher national priority. In response to growing usage and demand, Research!America has expanded its portfolio, which includes state, national and issue-specific polling. Poll data is available by request or at www.researchamerica.org.

About Research!America

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 representing 125 million Americans. Visit www.researchamerica.org.

 

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: This just in…

Dear Research Advocate,

If we cut back our investments in science and research, we will lose out on the companies and innovation that come with it. That was the message President Obama delivered Tuesday night during the second presidential debate. Governor Romney mentioned the wisdom of keeping STEM graduates in the U.S. by “stapling a green card” to their diplomas. In addition, Governor Romney responded to our Your Candidates – Your Health voter education initiative with a statement that stresses his commitment to ensuring government plays a role in supporting life sciences research and asserting that medical innovation must be a national priority. Please share both Governor Romney’s and President Obama’s responses with your networks and encourage other candidates to complete the questionnaire before Election Day.

“Are we too numb to care about the Nobel prizes in science?” That was one of the headlines of my op-ed in response to the Nobel Prize announcements, published in nine McClatchy-owned newspapers across the country to date, including the Sacramento Bee. Headlines assigned by other editors tell the story: “Invest in science? A no-brainer,” “Why won’t we make a commitment to science?”; “World-class investment brings world-class science,” and “Science still needs support.” I describe how science is being given short shrift by policy makers as unprecedented budget cuts loom. Click here to read the op-ed and see a full list of the papers that have run it — this is a made-to-order opportunity for you to submit a letter to the editor. Keep the momentum of our message going! For something fresh to use in your letter, cite new data from Pew Research indicating that, asked about ways to cut the nation’s deficit, 54% of Americans are opposed to reducing funding for scientific research.

Finally, I note with sadness the passing of Senator Arlen Specter. He will be sorely missed and long remembered for his steadfast championship of NIH. Research!America had the opportunity to honor him twice – in 2000 with the Whitehead Award and again in 2009 with our rarely given Legacy Award.  His is indeed a grand legacy of significance to the health and well-being of the American public and people everywhere.

Sincerely,

Mary Woolley

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: Romney adds Ryan and healthcare to election conversation

Dear Research Advocate,

With Rep. Paul Ryan joining the Romney ticket, health is back on the national agenda. Partisan politics aside, this conversation is overdue, since health is indeed an issue that will make or bankrupt us. Research has always figured prominently in the wellbeing of Americans and America – research brought an end to the polio epidemic, which could have bankrupted the nation in the 1950s, and research is the only answer to the scourge of Alzheimer’s that threatens health, quality of life and our national checkbook today. And that is just a starting point for the conversation I hope you are having with everyone who wants to talk about the election. Take the opportunity to bridge from health care to health research and remind Americans that research must be a higher priority. As Research!America Chair and former Congressman John Porter has said, “Priorities will be chosen, and money will be spent.” Let’s make sure health research is a top priority.

How much do we know about Rep. Paul Ryan’s position on our issues? One place to start is with Rep. Paul Ryan’s response to our Your Congress – Your Health questionnaire of 2007. In his responses, Rep. Ryan calls for increasing NIH funding and endorses the importance of STEM education, although not federal support for stem cell research. Obviously, the political and fiscal climate has shifted dramatically since 2007, and the “Ryan budget” passed earlier this year by the House could deprive discretionary programs of funding vital to research, (see my comment in Medpage Today).  

The case for research today is in fact stronger than it was five years ago. The Wall Street Journal has published an op-ed by two Nobel laureates, providing a clear and compelling case for the government’s role in fostering basic research — and including research in economics — yielding huge dividends for our health and economy as a whole. Dr. Peter Kohler, Vice Chancellor at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences has published a piece carrying an equally compelling message in the NWAonline and a terrific op-ed has appeared in the Press Democrat by Dr. Dennis Mangan, a former NIH program director now working as a science communication advisor in Santa Rosa, CA. It would be a privilege to work with you on your own op-ed or letter to the editor making the case for policies that promote continued medical progress.

In past letters, I’ve written about the sequester and its potential for gutting funding for health research. The Coalition for Health Funding, of which Research!America is a member, has released a grassroots toolkit to educate and equip advocates to fight the sequester. Please circulate these tools to your networks and make sure that we stand together against the sequester. Make it a point to engage with candidates while they are campaigning around the nation this month.

Sincerely,

Mary Woolley