CCTS Newsletter Dale Dirks and Dane Christiansen
April 21, 2017
On Wednesday, April 19th, over 200 established and young investigators from across the country participated in Translational Science 2017’s Capitol Hill Advocacy Day. Volunteers received comprehensive advocacy training and a review of contemporary legislative and policy issues before traveling to Capitol Hill and visiting with the offices of their Senators and Representatives. In total, advocates representing 32 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia met with the staff of 52 Senators and 12 key members of the House of Representatives.
Advocates educated members of Congress about the value and importance of the full spectrum of medical research. They also used their personal stories to discuss how federal resources for clinical and translational science, make an impact in local communities, advance health and patient care, and bolster the training and career development pipeline. Congressional offices were asked to actively support increased funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), to protect key programs (including CTSAs, IDeA, and RCMI), and to resist emerging recommendations from the administration to eliminate the Agency for Healthcare Research Quality. Advocates also communicated the importance of preparing the next generation of researchers by providing sufficient resources to ensure meaningful career opportunities.
This year, the timing of Hill Day was particularly significant. Congress is currently grappling with how to complete Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 appropriations and provided a $2 billion funding increase for NIH. Concurrently, Congress has also started the FY 2018 appropriations process and is considering how to provide subsequent increases for NIH and clinical and translational research and training/career development activities. Preliminary feedback indicates that many Members of Congress feel a sense of urgency for providing the needed funding increases and are working diligently to complete a comprehensive FY 2017 funding package in the near future.