The SfN Advocacy Network Newsletter gives members an overview of political developments affecting the science community, as well as upcoming advocacy opportunities.
In this issue:
- In the Spotlight: Ask Your Legislators to Come to a Budget Agreement Which Can Support Biomedical Research, Support the Defense of Non-Human Primate Research in Belgium, Annual Meeting Advocacy Events Review
- On Capitol Hill: Fiscal Year 2014 Takes Shape
- The Policy Mix: New Information Available on DARPA’s contribution to the U.S. BRAIN Initiative, George Koob Tapped to Head NIAA, SfN Adds Voice to Groups Urging Sequester Replacement, NDD United Issues Report on Harmful Effect of Budget Cuts, New Survey of Research Universities Underscores Negative Effect of Sequestration, New Report Highlights the Benefits of Federally-Funded Research to Business
In the Spotlight
Ask Your Legislators to Come to a Budget Agreement Which Can Support Biomedical Research
The bipartisan House and Senate Budget Conference Committee will meet in the coming days to negotiate the 2014 top-line budget. As they meet, it is important your legislators hear from you about the impact their decisions have on biomedical research. Ask your legislators to reverse sequestration and ensure programs such as those that support lifesaving biomedical research are able to receive the highest level of funding possible.
Support the Defense of Non-Human Primate Research in Belgium
The Belgian government is petitioning the European Commission to allow it to forbid addiction research on non-human primates in Belgium and possibly stop non-human primate research completely. The Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS) is circulating a petition in support of research involving non-human primates, asking “that the Belgian authorities comply with the 2010 EU Directive allowing basic and clinical research peer-reviewed projects that involve non-human primates and that adhere to the animal welfare regulations stipulated in that Directive, and refrain from more extreme and restrictive actions that will impair scientific and medical progress.” Add your voice by signing the petition here.
Annual Meeting Advocacy Events Review
Neuroscience policy and advocacy were in the spotlight at this year’s annual meeting, with several new events highlighting advocacy opportunities in the U.S. and abroad. These included “Understanding New Brain Initiatives in the United States and Europe,” and “Enhancing Global Cooperation on Advocacy,” both of which emphasized international neuroscience advocacy initiatives, but from different perspectives. The former featured representatives from U.S. federal agencies and the European Commission talking about recent international investments in neuroscience research, while the latter focused on grassroots advocacy strategies to encourage these and other initiatives.
Three other panels at the meeting addressed issues at the intersection of neuroscience and policy. The Public Advocacy Forum, “Policy Implications for the Science of Aging and End of Life,” addressed how scientific research can inform policies around aging and end-of-life issues. The Social Issues Roundtable, “Managing Incidental Findings in Research: Refining Methods of the Past, Mapping the Future,” discussed earlier approaches to management of incidental findings and best practices going forward. Finally, the Animals in Research Panel, “Facing Challenges on Animal Research: Finding Guidance in Your Institution,” explored how to be proactive in seeking out help within your institution and build greater awareness of animal research issues.
If you weren’t able to attend the annual meeting, video from many of these advocacy-related events will be available online in the coming weeks.
On Capitol Hill
Fiscal Year 2014 Takes Shape
After 16 days of shutdown, Congress was able to reach a deal to fund government operations, and the federal government reopened on October 17, 2013. Lawmakers passed a stopgap deal to fund the federal government through January 15 and suspend the debt ceiling limit through February 7. A bipartisan negotiating committee has until December 13 to come up with a budget deal.
While a “grand bargain” budget deal seems unlikely at this point, a continuing resolution or omnibus for FY 2014, which would fund the government at previous levels, is still possible. In addition, SfN and coalition partners are strongly pushing for a one to two year replacement to sequestration as part of the deal. Write to your legislators today and ask them to reverse sequestration and support biomedical research.
The Policy Mix
New Information Available on DARPA’s contribution to the U.S. BRAIN Initiative
On October 24, the New York Times reported that DARPA has announced the emphasis for its part of the U.S. BRAIN Initiative. It plans to spend $70 million over five years developing brain implants by focusing on improving existing technologies, like deep brain stimulation, or by developing new technology. The new program is called Systems-Based Neurotechnology and Understanding for the Treatment of Neuropsychological Illnesses.
George Koob Tapped to Head NIAA
On October 31, NIH Director Francis Collins announced that George F. Koob was selected as Director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Koob comes to the NIH from The Scripps Research Institute where he is chairman of the Committee on the Neurobiology of Addictive Disorders, and director of the Alcohol Research Center. He is known for his work on the neurocircuitry of reward, especially how it responds both acutely and chronically to drugs of abuse. Koob is expected to join the NIH in January 2014.
SfN Adds Voice to Groups Urging Sequester Replacement
SfN joined over 180 organizations representing patients, scientists, health care providers, universities, and industry on a November 12 letter to the House and Senate Budget Committee chairs urging them to reach an agreement on a replacement for sequestration. The letter specifically highlights the need for preservation of the nation’s investment in medical research.
NDD United Issues Report on Harmful Effect of Budget Cuts
On November 12, NDD United released a new report, “Faces of Austerity: How Budget Cuts Have Made Us Sicker, Poorer, and Less Secure,” which details the harmful effects of sequestration across a range of areas, including biomedical research. NDD United is a group of over 3,200 national, state, and local organizations working to increase funding for the non-defense discretionary sector.
New Survey of Research Universities Underscores Negative Effect of Sequestration
On November 11, the Association of American Universities, the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities, and The Science Coalition, released the results of a survey of research universities on the impact of sequestration. Highlights of the study include: 58 percent of respondents cited personnel impacts at their institutions as a result of sequester; 81 percent of respondents cited impacts directly affecting their research activity; and 42 percent of respondents cited impacts directly affecting students.