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Advocating for Science and Research Funding

NAVBO encourages you to advocate for science and research.  On this page, we will keep you informed of critical actions being taken that will impact the scientific community and actions you can take.  Through our membership with Research!America and other advocay sources, we hope to bring you up to date information.

From Research!America
July 13, 2017

Letter from Research!America President and CEO Mary Woolley
July 13, 2017


Dear Research Advocate,

Former Congressman John Porter, Research!America’s esteemed Chair Emeritus, does not mince words in his Washington Post LTE today, cautioning against state-level education policies that could be misused to subvert science education. Treating knowledge that has been affirmed by years of scientific exploration as negotiable jeopardizes our nation’s ability to meet the challenges and seize the opportunities before us. It is a path to decline rather than progress. We cannot afford to shy away from straight talk about misguided policies. Fortunately for our nation, John never does.
This afternoon, the House Labor-H Subcommittee, formerly chaired by Mr. Porter, “marked up” its appropriations bill. Given that the subcommittee was working with total funding $5-$7+ billion below the FY17 level -- depending on how you do the math -- it is striking that the bill provides NIH an increase of $1.1 billion (inclusive of Cures funding), cuts AHRQ funding, but doesn’t eliminate it (as previous House bills have), and sustains the NIH Fogarty International Center, refuting the president’s budget. Alarmingly though, CDC would receive a $200 million cut and there is language in the bill to impose new restrictions on fetal tissue research.
It is fair to be both appreciative of this legislation -- especially the leadership of Chairman Tom Cole (R-OK) -- and concerned about the distance between this bill and the investment actually needed to protect and advance health. See our statement.
As Harvard President Dr. Drew Faust eloquently conveyed in her recent alumni letter, the long-standing partnership between the federal government and universities is a driving force behind medical progress. The Labor-H subcommittee took a stand on behalf of this partnership by including language in the bill that would prevent the Administration from advancing the 10% indirect costs cap included in the president’s FY18 budget proposal.
That’s not to say this issue has been put to rest - far from it. First, the indirect cost language in this bill -- like the bill as a whole -- remains a proposal until signed into law. Second, the House is planning to explore the indirects issue more closely this Fall. In an LTE this week, Former House Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert observes that “Research does not get cheaper if you leave [indirect] costs out; it just becomes less likely to get undertaken at all.” Exactly the straight talk that is called for! Compelling op-eds by university leadership in Illinois and Florida echo this message. A community sign-on letter on indirect costs is currently circulating-- email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to include your organization.
Objecting to the counter-productive sequestration constraints appropriators face this year, 20 House Republicans sent a letter to Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) last week encouraging a budget deal to raise the FY18 sequestration caps. Our sign-on letter, with over 200 organizational signatories, reinforces the call for Congress to #RaiseTheCaps. Keep the drumbeat going by sending a message to your representatives! (In case you’re wondering, it is entirely possible to raise the caps after the appropriations committees act; in fact, the annual appropriations process was well underway before the last two budget deals were signed into law.)
Adding to the House’s busy week: the full chamber passed the FDA User Fee Reauthorization Act of 2017 (FDARA). The Senate has yet to act. The Trump Administration issued a Statement of Administration Policy (SAP) on the bill that reflects some concerns, but reportedly none that would lead to a veto. Make sure to tweet House and Senate Leaders, thanking the former and urging the latter to pass the bill ASAP!
Speaking of urgent issues, the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine released a report this afternoon recommending actions to overcome the opioid crisis. FDA has weighed in with plans to modify the risk/benefit calculation they use when evaluating pain medications, and CDC released a new Vital Signs report with key facts and resources to promote responsible opioid prescribing practices. Check out our new fact sheet on the pivotal role research is playing as our nation intensifies its response to this threat.
Ending on positive note: HHS Secretary Price has appointed Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, obstetrician-gynecologist and former Georgia public health commissioner to serve as CDC Director. Dr. Fitzgerald brings a wealth of experience to this crucially important post.


Mary Woolley
President and CEO Research!America

From Research!America
June 1, 2017

Letter from Research!America President and CEO Mary Woolley 
June 1, 2017


Dear Research Advocate,

Word of a plan to pass an FY18 omnibus bill in the House by the end of July has surfaced. The plan would require the House to rapidly draft, mark up and stitch together 12 appropriations bills. If House leadership takes this route, it is unclear what overall budget numbers they would work from; rumor has it they may adhere relatively closely to the “sequestration” budget caps established in 2011. Ironically, that would be significantly better than the president’s budget but, as I discussed last week, far worse than what is needed: an agreement to raise the caps and permit more budget flexibility. Call your members of Congress to make the case; and follow up with a message.    

The opioid epidemic is one of the major challenges that clearly call for more research and underscore the importance of more budget flexibility to help make that research possible. In an op-ed co-authored by NIH Director Francis Collins and National Institute on Drug Abuse Director Nora Volkow, NIH announced a joint effort with industry to help accelerate the pace of novel overdose-reversal and prevention methods. Tying their hands now via an inadequate budget is in no one’s best interest.  

Research not only brings benefits to the nation writ large -- including driving the innovation needed to combat the opioid epidemic -- but also brings benefits close to home. In a joint op-ed, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and University of New Hampshire President Mark Huddleston write: “Here in the Granite State, federally funded research has given birth to cutting-edge companies, addressed threats to key sectors of our economy and saved lives with new cures.” Are you interested in penning an op-ed about the impact of research in your state? Consult our newly completed state-by-state fact sheets for local stats and contact Anna Briseno () if we can help.  

A topic that has been top of mind for many is expenditures variously termed “indirect costs,” “overhead,” and “facilities and administration.” These include specially purposed laboratory space, utilities, disposal of hazardous waste, compliance with a broad range of regulations, and other essential aspects of conducting and administering research. The President’s budget proposes a drastic reduction in reimbursement for these costs and hearings on the topic are ongoing. This is a complicated issue; I am pleased to announce a Research!America alliance members call next Thursday (6/8) at 2 p.m. ET that will feature two top experts on the topic: Jennifer Poulakidas, VP of Congressional and Government Affairs at APLU and Toby Smith, Vice President for Policy at AAU. Members can get call-in information by emailing Jacqueline Lagoy at . In the interim, check out AAU’s FAQs on the topic.  

If you’re in the DC area, consider joining us for two Congressional Luncheon Briefings: The first, Innovation Intersection, will be held on June 12 and will drill down into the clinical research phase of the discovery, development, delivery pipeline. The second, The Value of Research and Prevention in Addressing the Societal Burden of Migraine, on June 15 will focus on a condition that affects an estimated 12% of the world’s population and is emblematic of why we must invest in more research. 



Mary Woolley
President and CEO Research!America

From Research!America
May 23, 2017

Statement by Research!America President and CEO Mary Woolley
on President Trump’s FY18 Budget Proposal
May 23, 2017

The president’s proposed FY18 budget is an imbalanced, heavy-handed approach to bolstering national defense at the expense of other American priorities, including the research and innovation crucial to national security. Instead of weakening our nation with this approach, we urge the 115th Congress to negotiate a bipartisan budget deal that will ensure that both defense and non-defense priorities are sufficiently funded. While labeled as ‘discretionary,’ research and innovation supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Science Foundation, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration strengthen our nation’s security and economic prosperity. Consistently, surveys show how highly Americans rank securing better health and quality of life; the president’s blueprint is tone-deaf to that reality. Steep funding cuts for the federal health agencies are counterproductive at a time when innovative research is moving us closer to identifying solutions for rare diseases, new prevention strategies to protect Americans from deadly and costly conditions, advances in gene therapy, new technologies for understanding the brain, and treatments that harness the ability of our immune system to fight cancer. Health services research, supported by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, is folded into NIH in the budget proposal, but funding is far below what’s needed to combat deadly errors and costly inefficiencies in our health care system.
Congress recognizes the urgency in keeping research for health at the forefront of national priorities, as it has signaled with back-to-back, significant increases for the NIH in FY16 and FY17. Strong bipartisan support for research must continue in FY18, and at the same time, Congress should act to lift the budget caps that threaten to hamstring non-defense discretionary appropriations. To seize this opportunity in medical and health research and innovation, and address the twin specters of disease and ever-rising health care costs held over every family and the nation as a whole, we must urge our congressional representatives to step up. Chairmen Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), and Ranking Members Patty Murray (D-WA) and Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) are among those to be specially commended for their ongoing leadership and commitment to protecting the health of Americans.
For current estimates on how the proposed FY18 budget could impact medical and health research agencies, visit http://bit.ly/2qdxXiJ.


May 10, 2017

Webinar: The Trump Budget: How scientists can fight proposed cuts to NIH

Join FASEB for a special webinar on:
Tuesday, May 23 at 2 p.m. EST
You must RSVP by Monday, May 22 to participate in the webinar.

The Trump Administration proposed deep cuts in funding for the federal science agencies in 2018. Congress is now considering the President's proposal. Jennifer Zeitzer, Director of Legisative Affairs, and Benjamin Krinsky, Senior Legislative Affairs Officer, will provide an overview of the recommended cuts, the timeline and key steps involved in the federal budget process, and guidance on what individual scientists can do to urge lawmakers to reject the President’s plan.

More advocacy information is available on the FASEB website

From the Coalition for Life Sciences
May 8, 2017

The week of May 1, Congress introduced and passed an Omnibus Appropriations bill that funds the federal government and its various programs for Fiscal Year 2017 (FY17).
The Omnibus bill provides:

  • A $2 billion increase for the National Institutes of Health for a total funding level of $34 billion.
  • A $9 million increase for the National Science Foundation for a total of $7.5 billion.
  • A$22 million increase for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for a total of $6.3 billion.
  • FDA was roughly flat funded for a $2.76 billion funding level for FY17. This number doesn’t include anticipated user fees.

Now is the time to thank your Member of Congress for his/her support. The CLS has a letter found here that you can use or edit to automatically send to your elected official.

You could also utilize social media to reach your elected official. Here are some sample tweets:

  • @RepSmith thank you for your steadfast leadership and support for @NIH.
  • @RepJohnson thank you supporting the Omnibus that provided increases for life science research.
  • @RepJones thank you for supporting important @NIH funding critical to saving lives and growing our economy.
  • @RepMoran my work relies on @NIH funding. Thank you for your continued support.

It is evident, the voice of scientists are heard on Capitol Hill. Advocacy matters. Your elected leaders do respond, but now you must thank them for hearing you.
Thank you for your time, efforts, and advocacy. We are all in this together.

Visit the CLS website:  http://www.coalitionforlifesciences.org/

From Research!America
May 5, 2017

Review the May/June Research Advocate here.  Please note the call for action to encourage Congress to increase the FY 2018 NIH Budget.

From Research!America
May 4, 2017

Excerpts from letter from Mary Woolley, R!A Executive Officer -
Research funding: After months and months of hard work by Congress and advocates, an FY17 appropriations deal providing a $2 billion increase for NIH and modest increases for NSF and FDA is on track to become law. While the news is not 100% positive (e.g. CDC received a cut, as did AHRQ), the headline is that Congress neither defaulted to flat-funding under a long-term CR nor acquiesced to OMB’s request for additional budget cuts. This is real-time evidence that advocacy works! See our statement and budget chart, and this terrific analysis by Matt Hourihan of AAAS.

I urge you to tweet or otherwise contact congressional and appropriations leaders to recognize their incredible efforts on this bill. Saying thank you is so important; don’t outsource it! Do it yourself.

FY18: The House “New Democrat” coalition sent a letter to House Republican leaders encouraging them to focus on six key policy areas in FY18. Two of the six: scientific research funded by agencies such as NSF and DARPA, and a $40 billion budget for NIH. In addition, Sens. Bob Casey (D-PA) and Richard Burr (R-NC) are circulating a letter asking their Senate colleagues to join them in requesting robust NIH funding in FY18. Urge your Senators to sign on.

Dr. Jane Lubchenco, former Administrator of NOAA and Distinguished University Professor and Adviser at Oregon State University, received the National Academy of Science’s most prestigious award, the Public Welfare Medal. Jane’s speech was extraordinary; I urge you to take a few minutes to listen to her remarks (begins at 1:19:00). What particularly resonated was her call for scientists to “provide hope.” She beautifully articulated how important it is for every scientist to learn, and work, to change hearts and minds for science.