Author Archives: Abigail Schindler

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FASEB Report: Sustaining Discovery in Biological and Medical Sciences

The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) has released a new report, Sustaining Discovery in Biological and Medical Sciences: A Framework for Discussion, detailing FASEB’s most recent analysis of the problems/issues facing the biomedical research enterprise.

From the executive summary: “FASEB….is concerned about the future of biological and medical research. Inconsistent investment policies, growing demands for research funding, and outdated policies are jeopardizing current and future progress in this important area of research. This is a serious problem for the nation, and requires immediate attention and action.”

Options for mitigating the multitude of problems discussed in the FASEB report include: 1: Maximize research funding; 2: Optimize funding mechanisms; and 3: Improve workforce utilization and training.

ScienceInsider writes, “Although it echoes previous reports, FASEB’s analysis breaks new ground for the society because it provides “a comprehensive view of the problem and recognizes that an increase in funding is not the way out of this dilemma,” says Howard Garrison, director of FASEB’s Office of Public Affairs. He said FASEB’s board now hopes to collect feedback from its membership.”

September Science Policy Events from the Union of Concerned Scientists

From the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Science Network Workshop Series:

101: Science & Policy Change: Using your expertise to influence the policy making process

Wednesday, September 10, 2014, 3:00 p.m. EDT

Presenters: Kate Cell, Senior Outreach Coordinator, UCS Climate and Energy Program; Dr. Dave Cooke, Vehicles Analyst, UCS Clean Vehicles Program; Dr. Daniel Pomeroy, AGU Congressional Science Fellow, Office of Senator Edward Markey

In today’s partisan political climate and noisy media landscape, science doesn’t always get an equal seat at the table in the policy making process. But for experts who want to make a difference on the issues they care about, there are opportunities to be a voice of influence and reason at all levels of policy making. This webinar is a guide for scientists and other experts who are interested in learning how they can use their expertise to make an impact on the policy process at the local, state, or national level. We will cover an approach to the theory of social change as it relates to the policy process, what it takes to create policy opportunities and how to identify them, strategies for working with coalitions, and advice on how to be a resource for decision makers. You’ll have the opportunity to ask questions to experts who have been involved in every step of the process, from organizing to coalition-building to advising a legislator.

 

ECS: So You Want to Work in Science Policy: What the experts wish they knew when they were students

Thursday, September 25, 2014, 3:00 p.m. EDT

Presenters: Christopher Boniface, UCS National Advisory Board member and molecular biologist; Emily Boniface, UCS National Advisory Board member and cell and molecular biologist; Andrew Rosenberg, Director, the Center for Science and Democracy at UCS

Whether you’re a grad student, post-doc, or early career scientist, if you’re interested in a career at the nexus of science and policy, it may be hard to know where to look for guidance. Join us for a Google+ Hangout with three scientists who have been in your shoes. Our experts will share tips on how to make the most of the resources that are available to you, and personal stories about what they wish they knew when they were finishing their degrees. During this interactive Hangout you’ll have plenty of time to ask your questions about building your network, finding a mentor, and where to look for resources and guidance as you take the next step in your career.

 

 

Action Alert! Flat Funding for NIH is a Budget Cut – Urge Your Representative to Support NIH by Signing the McKinley-Davis-Carson-King Letter for Medical Research

From Research!America:

“Given that the budget allocated to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which funds the non-commercial, basic medical research required to develop new medical treatments and cures, is actually lower this year than it was in 2012, it has never been more important to fight for NIH funding. To help ensure that this unique federal agency receives the resources needed to support research at universities, hospitals and other research institutions across the country, Representatives Peter King (R-NY), Susan Davis (D-CA), Andre Carson (D-IN), and David McKinley (R-WV) are circulating a sign-on letter in support of critically needed funding for NIH.”

In addition to the NIH budget being lower this year than in 2012, as a recent NatureEditorial points out, due to inflation and continued flat funding, the NIH’s budget has decreased by 10% in the last 10 years! Inflation for biomedical research is high, which means flat funding is actually a funding cut when inflation is taken into account. For example, while President Obama requested a 0.7% increase in his FY2015 budget for the NIH, inflation is projected to rise by 2.2% in 2014, translating into  an actual 1.5% cut for NIH spending. Likewise, by FY2019 the Department of Health and Human Services is projecting biomedical inflation to be at 3.3%, which would mean Congress would have to approve at least a 3.3% budget increase just for the NIH’s purchasing power to remain flat!

While these numbers are quite disheartening, a bipartisan group of Congress members are now recognizing what flat funding for NIH actually means. The McKinley-Davis-Carson-King Letter for Medical Research currently being circulated reads, “As Members of Congress who value the critical role played by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in better health outcomes, job creation, education, and economic growth, we respectfully request that the NIH receives at least $32 billion for Fiscal Year (FY) 2015. We feel this amount is the minimum level of funding needed to reflect the rising costs associated with biomedical research. At a time of unprecedented scientific opportunity, it is critical that the United States make forward-thinking investments that promote medical breakthroughs as well as our international leadership in biomedical research.”

The McKinley-Davis-Carson-King Letter for Medical Research’s $32 billion ask for FY2015 would be an additional 5.5% budget increase over Obama’s request. Please consider contacting your US House of Representative to urge them to sign on to the letter.

Crossposted from SciencePolitics.

Devastating: NIH Releases Guidance on Extramural Activities Following the Government Shutdown

Update: Due to overwhelming negative (and quite angry) feedback received by the NIH from researchers across the country, the NIH released a “Revised Guidance on Resumption of NIH Extramural Activities Following the Recent Lapse in Appropriations” on Oct. 22, 2013. “Responding to input from applicants and reviewers, NIH has reevaluated the plans for rescheduling initial peer review meetings that were cancelled due to the government shutdown. NIH will now reschedule most of the 200+ missed peer review meetings so that most applications are able to be considered at January 2014 Council meetings.” This is wonderful news, and also a great example of how change can occur if enough people make their voices heard! From Dr. Sally Rockey’s blog: “My colleagues and I have heard from many of you since Friday, expressing significant concerns regarding delaying the review of applications to the May council round due to the Government shutdown. Applicants faced with a four month delay in a funding decision described serious consequences to their research programs. Additionally, many reviewers contacted us saying they are ready and willing to do anything to get these reviews done. In light of this feedback, our review staff have risen to the challenge, and will be working with reviewers to go the extra mile in exceptionally creative ways to reschedule as many of the 200+ missed October review meetings as possible.” Dr. Rockey is the NIH’s Deputy Director for Extramural Research.

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Welcome back FOSEP general meeting is Tuesday 10/8!

Welcome back students, faculty, and staff to University of Washington and happy fall everyone! The FOSEP leaders are feeling refreshed after a wonderful summer break and can’t wait to get started with the new school year. We have some really exciting events planned for the upcoming year and hope you can join us as we promote scientific discussions across disciplines and varying levels of expertise.

Please join us on Tuesday October 8th, 2013 at the College Inn (in the back room) at 5pm. We will be reconnecting, sharing ideas, and learning about FOSEP and this year’s leaders and exciting upcoming events.

For the discussion portion of the meeting (from aprox. 5:30-6pm), we will be learning about how to navigate and decipher clinical trial data and how to separate flawed studies from true information.  The article that prompted this discussion is here – it has huge implications for those of us who drink as much coffee as I do!  But more interestingly, a new paper along similar lines came out in Science last week that is worth discussing, “Who’s Afraid of Peer Review?”   We will also be taking a look at this article from 2008 NYT:  Searching for Clarity: A primer on medical studies.

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