Tag Archives: Your Candidates-Your Health

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: Week of Advocacy Underway

Dear Research Advocate,

With a stellar team of advocates from across the research community, we have been blitzing Capitol Hill this week with our message that we need cures, not cuts. Research!America and our partners have participated in more than 60 meetings with Members of Congress, including key leadership and their staff. My thanks to the 140+ groups that signed on to our community letter to congressional leadership. Many partners have activated their grassroots to join the call Congress day, and there is still time to join the In-District Drop-In day (today) and a social media push on Friday. We also encourage you to keep up the drumbeat with emails and phone calls to Hill offices. Beltway media have taken notice of our ads and the coordinated activity, with articles appearing in The Hill and National Journal.  

Based on our meetings this week, the message is definitely getting through that across-the-board cuts or more stringent caps on discretionary spending would hurt our nation far more than help it. But it was also clear that continued, outspoken advocacy is crucial. No option is off the table, and that means we must keep making the case. Staffers told us that providing concrete examples to illustrate what’s at stake is crucial, and no community is better equipped to drive the point home than ours. We saw that yesterday, when, for example, leaders of the Society for Neuroscience gave concrete examples of research at risk, and when advocates from the Parkinson’s Action Network who are living with this incredibly challenging illness described what stalled progress means for them. I am certain – 100% certain – that their advocacy influenced influential people.

The need for many more of us to engage was the message in the lead editorial in Science I co-authored with Research!America Board member and CEO of AAAS, Dr. Alan Leshner. In the editorial, we urge scientists not to stand back, but to speak up for research and make it clear to Congress that “No Science = No Growth,” quoting the words of former NSF Director Neal Lane. Research!America Chair The Hon. John Porter penned a letter to the editor expanding on Lane’s recent op-ed in The New York Times, reminding readers that research dollars are distributed based on peer review to every state and nearly every congressional district in the country. He calls on the lame-duck Congress to overcome partisan divides and step up now to prioritize research.

This afternoon, we are holding our post-election forum and award ceremony for the 2012 Garfield Economic Impact Award at AAAS. We’ll hear from Research!America Chair John Porter, Congressman Mfume, Dr. Mark McClellan and Matthew Cooper of the National Journal Daily. We will be reviewing what we learned about areas of common ground in the Congress from responses to our voter education initiative, Your Candidates-Your Health, and discussing advocacy strategies going forward. View full event details here and join us if you are in DC.

I was saddened to learn of the death of former Congressman Joe Early (D-MA). Rep. Early served for nearly 20 years, championing funding for NIH on the Labor, Health and Human Services appropriations subcommittee, and at every other conceivable opportunity. He was an ardent supporter of Research!America in its start-up phase. We extend our sympathies to his family on their, and the nation’s, great loss.

Monday next week is Public Health Thank You Day, our annual salute to the unsung heroes of public health who keep us safe in so many ways. Please take a minute on Monday of Thanksgiving Week to do a shout-out to people you know who are making a big difference for health. Check out this link for details. And do enjoy Thanksgiving.  My letters will resume on Thursday, November 29.

Sincerely,

Mary Woolley

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A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: The $6 billion dollar election

Dear Research Advocate,

By far the most expensive, and arguably one of the most divisive, election seasons in history is behind us. A lot of money was spent to find out that Americans continue to hold divergent views on many issues. We heard very little about research during the election because, in most ways, it is not a divisive issue; support is both bipartisan and grounded in common sense. The problem is that it can be taken too much for granted. At a time when Americans are looking for an end to standoff politics and want action on things we can feel good about as a nation, prioritizing research for health can be the perfect healing issue — something we can all be proud of. But let’s be clear: Action to prioritize research will only happen if we speak out to put it in the spotlight as policy makers regroup to address the fiscal cliff. We need to convince policy makers that prioritizing research is the smart thing to do as well — smart for job creation and to drive the economy, smart for assuring our global competitiveness, smart for patients, and smart for maximizing innovations that will save lives and drive down the cost of health care.

We must unite and speak with one voice that we need cures, not cuts! If you are not already on board our week of advocacy November 12-16, I encourage you to add your organization to our list of partners and engage your networks to participate in the various strategies that are planned, including a call-in day, a day for visits to district offices, an email-in day, and a Hill day entailing visits to a number of DC offices. All these strategies are supported by an inside-the-Beltway advertising campaign designed to get maximum attention. Click here to see the latest schedule of events for the week ahead. If you would like to sign up for the Hill day, have other events that you would like to include in the calendar, or would like more information, contact Ellie Dehoney at edehoney@researchamerica.org. As an important part of this effort, we are circulating a sign-on letter urging Congress to prioritize research in a deal averting sequestration or any other plan for addressing the deficit. Read the full letter here, and contact Jordan Gates at jgates@researchamerica.org for an updated list of cosigners and/or to sign on. The deadline is fast approaching — be sure to sign today!

Post-election, it is instructive to take a look at the responses of various candidates who responded to Your Candidates–Your Health, our voter education initiative. I recommend taking a quick look at President Obama’s responses here, noting his commitment to doubling funding for federal research agencies. As a sampling of other responses take a look at those of Rep. Dr. Dan Benishek (R-MI), who held his seat, here. In Massachusetts, Joe Kennedy won a seat in the 4th District – judging from his responses here, he will be one of our new champions. Medical research champion Brian Bilbray (R-CA) is locked in a not-yet-called election in San Diego. For more on what this election means, be sure to attend our post-election event on November 15th.

I have had the chance to talk about the post-election prospects for research as they impact all the elements of the research enterprise on BioCentury This Week. This program can be viewed here. Maybe you will watch it with a copy of the latest (tomorrow’s) issue of Science magazine in hand. In the lead editorial, AAAS CEO Dr. Alan Leshner and I urge the science community — as individuals as well as through their institutions and associations — to speak out now to Congress or face the decline of research in this nation. This is not a time to hold back! As you reach out, make use of resources on the website for the Week of Advocacy, www.saveresearch.org, including op-ed and letter-to-the editor templates, sample tweets and a new fact sheet on the economic impact of NIH. There are also links to many extraordinary resources produced by FASEB, UMR, AAAS, Ad Hoc and many other organizations. We thank you all for uniting in saying to Congress and the administration: WE NEED CURES, NOT CUTS!

Sincerely,

Mary Woolley

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: 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

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

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: New Poll – Likely Voters Say to Congress: Stay in Session, Avoid Taking Us Over the Fiscal Cliff

Dear Research Advocate,

To call attention to the unintended consequences of the sequester, we held a press briefing today in partnership with United for Medical Research. Two Members of Congress who are still in town, Reps. Ed Markey (D-MA) and Brian Bilbray (R-CA), spoke about the high priority the nation must place on NIH and about the usefulness of data from a new national public opinion poll showing that 51% of Americans say that across-the-board cuts are not the right way to reduce the deficit. To see more poll results for use in your advocacy, click here. Other speakers this morning spoke about what’s at stake for everyone who cares about the research enterprise: patient hopes for cures delayed; industries unable to create new jobs and drive innovation in frustration about U.S. policies and lack of predictability; young scientists becoming discouraged and accepting offers to work in other countries – countries that have made research a clear priority. All of this further burdens our national deficit – we need research to combat the rising cost of health care by delaying the onset of Alzheimer’s and a host of other diseases. As Rep. Markey said, it will take high energy and coordination to get our message of research as a priority heard during the lame-duck session. You will be hearing more from us about how to assure that happens, but in the meantime, don’t forget that there is an important election going on (see below).

First a quick recap of what sequestration means, according to a new OMB report. Most agencies would be hit with an 8.2% cut – NIH alone would lose $2.5 billion in 2013! It is still unclear what level of discretion agency heads would have in carrying out these cuts. Losses at the CDC would be $464 million, the FDA would lose $318 million, and the NSF would be cut by $577 million. See our new one-pager with the latest data.

There is an additional dimension to the FDA cut that should be of significant concern to all advocates for medical progress. Part of the cut diverts industry-supplied user fees into deficit reduction. Those fees are paid by industry for the express purpose of ensuring FDA has the resources to review new medicines and medical devices on a timely basis. The precedent of playing bait and switch with user fees is a dangerous one, particularly since these fees are voluntary. Why should the drug and device industries agree to pay user fees in the future knowing that still more time will be lost in approvals – and patients will be forced to wait longer for new treatments and cures. We must work together to address it.

We all need to do our part to make sure the media is covering all the aspects of the threat of sequestration, making it more evident to all Americans just what is at stake. We’ve already seen National Journal release an article about our new polling data. The Atlantic released a story about how sequester would impact science budgets, citing another recent article from ScienceInsider. The Scientist also reported on the story, quoting Ellie Dehoney, our VP for policy and programs. This week, the Rochester (MN) Post-Bulletin reported how the cuts at NIH could impact the Mayo Clinic, a Research!America member. For those of you that may have contacts with local or national media, now is the time to let them know about the impact where you live.

We are only a month and half away from the election. We know from many of our members and partners that they are calling/writing/emailing campaigns to urge participation in the Your Candidates –Your Health voter education initiative. Please join the momentum and help drive the campaign … we don’t have much time left to make it clear to candidates that it isn’t only lobbyists and professional advocates (people like us at Research!America) who care about research and want them to talk about it. Every candidate should be hearing from hundreds of concerned stakeholders. Make sure you are in that number!

Demonstrations of the value of NIH and NSF research will soon be honored by Research!America member FASEB. Submit events, exhibits or web-based outreach that highlight the value that research agencies deliver and compete for a cash prize! For details, click here.

Sincerely,

Mary Woolley

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: Congress is back and there is lots to talk about

Dear Research Advocate,

Congress is back in Washington but still in campaign mode, making its decisions with the election very much in mind. A 6-month continuing resolution (C.R.) is expected to pass momentarily. The C.R. would put off appropriations decision-making until the new Congress has gotten under way, flat-funding the government through March of next year at fiscal 2012 levels. The atmosphere of fiscal uncertainty for the agencies that fund research, and everyone seeking that funding, is in fact demoralizing in the extreme. Compounding the problem is that the C.R. does nothing to address the looming problem of sequestration, which is scheduled to take effect on January 2, 2013. The administration is slated to release a report tomorrow detailing how the sequestration cuts would be implemented at the department and agency level; it is unlikely to single out research and innovation for special protection. Thus it is more important than ever that our stakeholder community unite in a call to stop sequestration. We encourage you to join us and other members of the United for Medical Research (UMR) coalition on September 20 in a press conference at the National Press Club at 9:30 a.m. Please RSVP to sbauer@gpgdc.com.

Last week, a timely op-ed by Michael Milken in the The Wall Street Journal highlighted the wondrous medical advances and economic prosperity that have been made possible through investments in research. The op-ed coincided with the Milken-sponsored Celebration of Science, a weekend-long series of discussions and other events shining a spotlight on the multifaceted contributions of science to the well-being of Americans and populations throughout the world. In the course of the proceedings, both Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) spoke forcefully about the high priority the nation must place on medical research.

On Tuesday this week, the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation announced the recipients of the prestigious Lasker Awards – often referred to as the ‘American Nobels’ – which will be presented in New York City later this month. The accomplishments of these awardees exemplify the power of research to unlock knowledge that is of invaluable benefit to society. Mary Lasker, a founder of Research!America, lives on with her hard-hitting message: “If you think research is expensive, try disease!” For timely information on the costs of disease as well as the value and promise of research, see our fact sheets. Use them in your advocacy!

Three other media pieces this week were timed for Congress’ return. Our Your Candidates-Your Health ad is running in Politico now. Use it to leverage your request to candidates to tell us all what they will do to make research a priority. A Washington Post op-ed co-authored by Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN) and Research!America board member and AAAS Executive Director Dr. Alan Leshner fights back against kneejerk reactions to research based on the name of the project and/or the misconception that science is a mechanical process rather than an iterative, dynamic one. The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and others have come together to recognize outstanding researchers whose contributions belie their detractors with the first Golden Goose Award ceremony.

With her letter in the The Wall Street Journal, Ellen Sigal, chairman and founder of Friends of Cancer Research and a Research!America Board member, emphasizes that the views and values of patients must be taken into account when FDA makes the risk vs. benefit calculations that factor so importantly in drug approval decisions. She points out that “risk” is in the eye of the beholder when a new drug is the last and best hope for a terminally ill patient. It is a welcome development that more patients and patient groups are stepping up to take their rightful place in the research process, ultimately driving it across the finish line faster. Patient engagement with Congress has always been high impact; now we need it to influence candidates to make medical progress a top national priority.

Sincerely,

Mary Woolley

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: Reading between the Lines and then Taking Action

Dear Research Advocate,

As you know, the Republican Party Platform was unveiled Tuesday during the convention in Tampa. There are direct references to medical and health research and other statements that — if not explicit — definitely imply the need for such research. We can draw from both to enhance our advocacy efforts.

The following exemplifies the direct and indirect nature of the platform’s embrace of medical and health research:

“We support federal investment in health care delivery systems and solutions creating innovative means to provide greater, more cost-effective access to high quality health care. We also support federal investment in basic and applied biomedical research, especially the neuroscience research that may hold great potential for dealing with diseases and disorders such as autism, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. If we are to make significant headway against breast and prostate cancer, diabetes and other killers, research must consider the special needs of formerly neglected groups.”

The platform explicitly supports federal funding for basic and applied medical research, and, if I am interpreting the text correctly, acknowledges the need to address health disparities as part of the nation’s research agenda. This statement also implies the need for health services research (HSR) to devise “solutions” that improve health care access, cost-effectiveness and quality. Unfortunately the House Labor-H appropriations bill precludes NIH funding for health economics research — a key subset of HSR — and virtually zeroes out the budget of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the main funder of HSR. The platform provides advocates fresh talking points as final appropriations decisions are made later this year.

The Republican platform also states: “Even expensive prevention is preferable to more costly treatment later on.” While the rest of the statement focuses on personal responsibility, research plays an undeniable role in effective prevention. Vaccines, the nicotine patch, successful drug and alcohol addiction treatment programs … all are grounded in research. Advocates can segue directly from the platform to the importance of prevention research at CDC and other agencies … and we should. Three other sections of the platform are noteworthy. It goes hard on the FDA, asserting that it needs significant reform. The platform does not mention funding, but there is a logical connection here. Patient groups, scientists, industry and FDA leaders themselves are all committed to strengthening the agency and are working hard to accomplish just that. Support for FDA reform cannot logically be decoupled from support for FDA funding, a point that must not get lost in the reform debate.

Second, the platform advocates making the R&D tax credit permanent. Bravo!  We should increase and make other improvements to the credit as well.

Finally, the platform opposes embryonic stem cell research. Not a surprise, but a disappointment.  Proponents must keep fighting this battle, drawing strength from the recent court victory in which President Obama’s executive order was once again upheld.

There is much to applaud in the Republican platform when it comes to federal support for both medical and health research. Let’s take that and run with it. In an article that appeared this week in Forbes, John Zogby discusses the results of our recent national poll. He focuses on the exceptional level of agreement between different demographic and ideological subsets of the American population on issues related to health and medical research. We see that reality reflected in many of the planks in the Republican platform. Indeed most of the results from our poll will not surprise you (except, perhaps, the fact that a majority of Americans of all stripes would pay a dollar more per week in taxes if they knew it was going toward medical research), but it’s a fact that most policy makers have not embraced medical progress as a goal worthy of mentioning in campaign speeches or on their campaign websites. Platforms aside, this gives Americans no basis by which to evaluate whether individual candidates will champion or chop research funding and no assurance that they will take medical innovation into account when evaluating policy decisions that could stimulate or stifle it. Your Candidates-Your Health is an important way that candidates can make their opinions known about medical and health research. Advocates can do their part by attending town halls, visiting campaign offices, writing op-eds and letters to the editor, and using these polling results to convince candidates that promoting medical progress should be one of their core missions.

We have our work cut out for us, but we will succeed if we do more than parse the rhetoric — we have to take action!

Sincerely,

Mary Woolley

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: Turn up the Volume on Sequester

Dear Research Advocate,

As the political conventions get underway, we have further evidence that voters want candidates to make research for health a prominent issue, now and after the election.  Our latest national public opinion poll, conducted a week ago, shows voters want to elect candidates who value and highly prioritize the importance of medical progress. Among the highlights: 90% say it’s important for candidates to address medical research; 59% say elected officials in Washington are not paying enough attention to combating deadly diseases, so much so that 63% say the next president should announce initiatives promoting medical progress in his “first 100 days in office.” And the media is taking notice, with articles covering our new poll in POLITICO Pro, Business Insider, The Hill and Roll Call. Clearly, voters will support candidates who share their commitment to research for health.

In case you missed it, our Your Candidates – Your Health initiative was featured in an advertisement in USA TODAY. If you haven’t already, please reach out to your representatives and feel free to cite the recent ad as another reason for them to participate in the initiative. You can also use our Grassroots Guide to activate your networks via social media or raise awareness with a letter-to-the editor or op-ed.

In past letters, I’ve written extensively about the sequester and its implications for research, yet I am hearing reports that many research stakeholders are just now learning about the seriousness that this threat poses. If we are to effectively fight the sequester, we must ensure that all research stakeholders and the public at large are informed about this issue. The American Chemical Society has produced an excellent video outlining the origins and implications of sequester. We also saw a heartfelt letter to the editor in the Hattiesburg American written from the perspective of a mother, whose son is alive today because of investments in medical research. InsideHealthPolicy.com (subscription only) published a story about how the biomedical research community is uniting to stop the sequester, drawing on one of our statements. In The News & Observer, E. Wayne Holden, CEO of RTI International and Research!America member, writes about the need to reduce the deficit while maintaining our investments in basic and applied research. Nightly Business Report also picked up the story, in a segment emphasizing the impact on NIH and medical research.

As part of our ongoing efforts to convey to Congress the value of investing in research, we’ve just released a new fact sheet – Genomics Research: Transforming Health and Powering the Bioeconomy. This document demonstrates the immense return on investment from the Human Genome Project and features survivor stories that showcase how cutting-edge sequencing technology can save and improve lives. As a member of Research!America, use our fact sheets to convey that research is vital to our quality of life, our economic progress, and our nation’s future. As always, let us know how we can help.

Sincerely,

Mary Woolley

Research!America Press Release: Likely Voters Say President’s “First 100 Days in Office” Should Include Plans for Promoting Medical Progress

As Political Conventions Begin, Voters say it’s Important for Candidates to Address Medical Research

WASHINGTON—August 22, 2012— On the eve of the political conventions, nearly two-thirds of likely voters say the next president should announce initiatives promoting medical progress during his “first 100 days in office,” according to a new national public opinion poll commissioned by Research!America.  And nearly three-quarters of those polled say it’s important for candidates for the presidency and Congress to have a science advisor.  The findings reveal deep concerns among voters about the lack of attention candidates and elected officials have assigned to research.

“Research and innovation, despite its contributions to the nation’s health and the economy, has been given short-shrift by candidates this year – even as funding for research is at high risk in budget discussions,” said Mary Woolley, president and CEO of Research!America. “This is troubling given the fact that deep spending cuts for government supported research and failure to adopt policies promoting competitiveness could drastically slow the pace of discovery and development at a time when health threats are expanding in many communities.”

Nearly 60 percent of likely voters say elected officials in Washington are not paying enough attention to combating the many deadly diseases that afflict Americans. An overwhelming majority of voters (90%) say it is important for candidates to address medical and health research this year. With concern about health care costs rising, 77% of likely voters say the federal government should fund research to make the health care system more efficient and effective. And despite the tough economy, more than half (53%) are willing to pay $1 per week more in taxes if they were certain that all of the money would be spent for additional research.

“Americans get the importance of medical research.  Without a strong investment in research, we can’t combat disease, we can’t reduce exploding health care costs and we can’t balance our budget,” added Woolley.

Poll highlights include:

  • 68% believe the federal government should increase support for scientific research that advances the frontiers of knowledge and supports private sector innovation.
  • 60% say medical progress will slip in the U.S. if another country takes the lead in science, technology and medical innovation.
  • 66% say their quality of life has been improved by medical research over last decade.
  • 61% favor expanding federal funding for research using embryonic stem cells.
  • Only 15% know that medical research in the U.S. is conducted in every state.

To view the poll, visit: www.researchamerica.org/nationalpoll2012

Research!America’s national voter education initiative Your Candidates-Your Health, invites candidates for the presidency and Congress to state their views on medical research and related issues.  The brief questionnaire can be found at www.yourcandidatesyourhealth.org.

The National Public Opinion Pollwas conducted online in August 2012 by JZ Analytics for Research!America. The poll has a sample size of 1,052 likely U.S. voters with a theoretical sampling error of +/- 3.1%.

About us: 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 that represent the voices of 125 million Americans. Visit www.researchamerica.org.

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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

Research!America Press Release: Maintaining the Momentum of Medical Progress a Low Priority in Many Congressional Campaigns

WASHINGTON—August 7, 2012 —Research!America, a nonprofit advocacy alliance, says too many congressional candidates are minimizing the importance of our nation’s faltering role in fighting deadly and disabling diseases as a campaign issue. Polling indicates that Americans rank medical research a high priority but also shows a majority of likely voters are not aware of their representatives’ views on research.

Some candidates have indicated that they “don’t have time” to fill out a short questionnaire gauging their views on the importance of continued medical progress. Research!America and its partner organizations are calling on candidates to elevate the fight to save lives in their campaigns by participating in the national voter education initiative Your Candidates-Your Health, www.yourcandidatesyourhealth.org.

The brief questionnaire focuses on the nation’s investment in research and prevention; research as an economic driver; stem cell research; science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education; and other related issues.

“The idea that candidates ’don’t have time‘ to address an issue that literally has life or death consequences for millions of Americans is truly disturbing,” said Mary Woolley, president and CEO of Research!America. “Federally funded medical research is the catalyst to new, homegrown businesses in research and manufacturing in an economy that clearly needs both. Voters deserve to know where the candidates stand particularly when funding for research is on a downward slope, young scientists are discouraged about their future, and other countries are dramatically boosting their investments in research and development.”

In July, the House Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee approved a bill that flat-funds the National Institutes of Health, eliminates the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and cuts funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by 10% in FY13. In addition, funding for federal health agencies is at risk under sequestration – automatic spending cuts to take effect in January 2013.

Deep spending cuts would have a crippling effect on research conducted by universities, academic health centers and independent research institutions across the country. According to the CDC, approximately 50,000 Americans die monthly of heart disease, more than 47,000 of cancer, nearly 11,000 of stroke, more than 6,000 of Alzheimer’s disease, and more than 5,000 of diabetes.

To date, President Barack Obama and dozens of congressional candidates, including incumbents from both parties, have responded to the Your Candidates-Your Health questionnaire. Gov. Mitt Romney has yet to respond. To learn more about the survey and view the responses of candidates, visit www.yourcandidatesyourhealth.org.

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 that represent the voices of 125 million Americans. Visit www.researchamerica.org.

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: Congress is heading your way – resist the temptation to duck!

Dear Research Advocate,

Just before leaving Washington for five weeks, Congressional leaders Harry Reid and John Boehner announced agreement on a continuing resolution (“C.R.”) to fund the government until March 2013. In what has become routine, appropriations decisions will be deferred far beyond the October 1 beginning of the federal fiscal year. The leaders’ agreement, motivated by the need to avert a government shutdown, would leave NIH, FDA, AHRQ, CDC and the NSF with steady-state budgets, which is at least a better outcome than proposals for cuts pending before the House right now. But don’t take your eye off the ball! All kinds of mischief is possible between now and March, including modification of the measure before Congress votes on it in September, and other detrimental funding decisions driven by the “fiscal cliff.”

The need for a C.R. is the latest signal to the citizenry that our government is dysfunctional. To the research enterprise, it delivers yet another message of instability. As Lilly CEO John Lechleiter reminds us in a recent Forbes article, the U.S. is now ranked second to last among 44 nations in a measure of the ingredients that power technological innovation. Taking a step toward reversing this course, the Senate Finance Committee took action on the R&D tax credit. That said, their proposal is a mixed bag. The credit would be reinstated for 2 years, which is a positive sign in the current budget climate, but none of the needed improvements to the credit would be made. Research!America will be weighing in on behalf of the strongest credit possible, and I hope you will do the same.

As you develop your message to those running for Congress, don’t forget to take a stand against micromanagement of science. A timely reminder of how our society can be hamstrung in coping with a difficult challenge is recalling that the CDC was prohibited, beginning in the late 1990s, from conducting research on preventing gun-related injuries. Take a moment to read a thought-provoking op-ed in The Washington Post by former Congressman Jay Dickey and Mark Rosenberg, president of the Task Force for Global Health. In the wake of the Aurora tragedy, the authors call attention to the need for research on gun-related injuries if we are to formulate evidence-based policies that will save lives.

For all these reasons and more, please take action in August – don’t take a break from the Congress while they are running for election – run right toward them to make our case! I urge you to attend town hall meetings, visit the home offices of your senators and representatives, stop by various campaign headquarters, and make your message heard. Please call me or Ellie Dehoney at 703-739-2577 if we can provide talking points, data or other materials that may be useful in your advocacy or if you just want to brainstorm ideas. I’ve been pounding on the importance of getting candidates on the record – this is absolutely essential to our cause. Please do your part via the Your Candidates – Your Health voter education initiative.

As part of our own outreach to campaigns, Research!America has been working with scientists and patients to produce short YouTube videos that illustrate the importance of  research and to urge campaigns to participate. Take a moment to watch the researcher videos on our new webpage and share them with your networks. Then tape and send us your own! This is an opportunity to participate in “reality” media. And what could be more real than your own story – as a patient, a caregiver, a researcher or an entrepreneur?

Sincerely,

Mary Woolley

P.S. The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy has scheduled a call to discuss the potential impacts of sequestration on funding for science and technology. The call is being held Wednesday, August 8th at 2pm – click here to RSVP.

Advocacy Alert: Ask Your Candidates About the Future of Health Research

It’s time to find out where your congressional candidates stand on health research issues. Research!America has launched our award-winning voter education initiative, Your Candidates–Your Health 2012. This initiative gets candidates on the record with their views on health research and displays their responses to a questionnaire on our website.

We need your help TODAY to reach out to the candidates and ask them to complete this short questionnaire. Health and medical research are critical issues for our nation, and we must know where candidates stand. Send a message to the campaigns right away. Together, we can put the spotlight on health research in the 2012 elections. Like this alert on Facebook, like our Facebook page and share it with your networks.

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: Sequencing, Sequestration and Sputnik

Dear Research Advocate,

What do sequencing and sequestration have in common, besides being mysterious words to most people? It’s pretty simple: We won’t have more of the former if the latter takes place. Why isn’t it a Sputnik moment to learn that there is more sequencing capacity at Beijing Genome Institute than we have total capacity in our country? And, to learn that the Chinese government is subsidizing the cost of sequencing so that it is fast becoming the go-to place for industry and academia worldwide? It’s time for advocates to talk this up so that policy makers will once again plus-up research as a U.S. priority.

Jeffrey Zients, the Acting Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, is among those (few, to date) talking about the damaging consequences of sequestration. His op-ed in Politico calls on Congress to stop sequestration’s automatic spending cuts – never really meant to happen but now a very real possibility – pointing out what is at stake: “Research and development, critical to our long-term economic growth, would also be undermined …” The day after this article hit the papers, The Boston Globe published a piece detailing the potential impact of the sequester on health research, citing Research!America’s report on the topic. You, too, can and should spread the alarm about sequestration before the unintended scenario becomes the reality that some have estimated will result in a 41% decline in NIH purchasing power since 2004 – and will continue to drive industry to shutter R&D in this country, with losses for jobs, new business development and, ultimately, losses for patients.

Sometimes critics of research expenditures – whether taxpayers and their representatives or business investors – criticize the time lag before research pays off. There are plenty of ways to push back on that skepticism, including exciting advances covered in front-page stories this week, all authored by Gina Kolata of The New York Times. Today’s article featured groundbreaking Alzheimer’s research from Research!America member Genentech and other collaborators, which may finally hold the key to developing an effective course of treatment to stave off the disease. A series of Kolata articles earlier in the week showcases exciting and life-saving cancer advances at Washington University and other institutions. The reason these articles are front-page news is that research breakthroughs resonate with Americans. You can make the link about the payoff of investment in research when you engage in conversation about these and other health advances in the news.

Also making headlines was a USA Today feature on Ann Romney’s battle with multiple sclerosis and how the struggle has shaped her life. My letter to the editor calls for increasing investment in research and asks candidates to let their views be known on research issues. This is the perfect time to join us in urging the Romney campaign to respond to our Your Candidates – Your Health questionnaire on medical research issues.

Finally, may I ask for three minutes of your time? This is the 53rd of my weekly letters, which means we’ve just passed the one-year mark! Please take a few moments to complete a short questionnaire to help me make these all the more useful to you in the year ahead. Thanks in advance for your feedback.

Sincerely,

Mary Woolley