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: Join FENS and SfN for an Advocacy Workshop , U.S. Legislators Recognize Brain Awareness Week, Advocate for Science: Brain Awareness Video Contest
- On Capitol Hill: Obama’s Budget Released, Support Efforts to Increase Funding for NIH, Retirements and Resignations, 2014 Neuroscience Caucus Briefing, First 2014 Appropriations Hearing, Biomedical Caucus Briefing Features BRAINI, Hearing on Neuroscience Funding
- The Policy Mix: New Director of NSF, White House for BRAIN Initiative, NSTC Interagency Report on Neuroscience
In the Spotlight
Join FENS and SfN for an Advocacy Workshop at the FENS Forum in Milan
Attend the “Advocacy and Transparency on Animals in Research” satellite symposium at the Milan FENS Forum July 4-5. The goal of the workshop is to bring together stakeholders from the EU and U.S. to develop EU-wide strategies on animals in research. The workshop will serve to coordinate activities and as a model for coordination on a larger scale for political and public advocacy. The workshop will feature a dialogue on the history of scientists being targeted by activists in the U.S., regulatory restrictions with IACUCs, the revision process of the EU Directive 63-2010, and how to communicate about these issues to lawmakers politicians, and the public. Learn more here.
U.S. Legislators Recognize Brain Awareness Week
Several U.S. legislators celebrated Brain Awareness Week (BAW) this year. Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-PA), who was recently honored with the Whitehead Award for medical research advocacy from SfN coalition partner Research!America, lauded Brain Awareness Week in a press release. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), co-chair of the Congressional Neuroscience Caucus, sent a Dear Colleague letter to legislators in support of neuroscience. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) gave a one minute speech on the floor of the House in support of BAW, and will attend Miami’s brain awareness event, the Miami Brain Fair, on March 22. For a full list of legislators who’ve supported BAW this year, go to SfN.org.
Advocate for Science: Brain Awareness Video Contest
The Brain Awareness Video Contest was created to reward brief, creative, and educational videos about neuroscience. Communicate why you support federal science funding through an original video about brain research, or collaborate with someone in your community — anyone can enter! Submissions are due June 12, 2014. Learn more about the contest and check out past winners at www.brainfacts.org/bavc. Communicate your science in a creative way today.
On Capitol Hill
President Obama’s Budget Released
On March 4, President Barack Obama released his fiscal year 2015 budget. The NIH request is $30.2 billion, an increase of $200 million, or 0.7 percent over the FY 2014 omnibus. The request for NSF is $7.3 billion, an increase of $83 million or 1.2 percent over the FY 2014 levels. The president’s budget also specifically references the BRAIN Initiative. It calls for $100 million from NIH, $80 million from DARPA, and $20 million from NSF. The president’s budget indicates the administration’s priorities and serves as a starting point for the budget process. The budget still needs to go through the Appropriations Committees of both houses of Congress and through full House and Senate votes as well; much can — and probably will — change. We will keep you up to date as the process continues and more details are released. Learn more at SfN.org.
Urge Your Representatives to Support Efforts to Increase NIH Funding
SfN’s Capitol Hill Day in the United States is approaching. Take two minutes to urge your representatives to reverse cuts to NIH and reaffirm the United States’ commitment to investment in biomedical research. Reps. David McKinley (R-WV), Andre Carson (D-IN), Susan Davis (D-CA), and Peter King (R-NY) are looking for House co-signers on a bipartisan letter urging appropriators to maintain a strong commitment for NIH in FY 2015. Contact your U.S. representatives and ask them to sign the letter making the case for strong research funding.
Notable Retirements and Resignations
The chairman of the committee that appropriates money to NIH, Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA), is leaving the House to run for Georgia's open Senate seat. Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ), a PhD scientist and strong advocate for science, has announced that he is retiring at the end of his term.
First Congressional Neuroscience Caucus Briefing of 2014 a Success
The Congressional Neuroscience Caucus held a briefing for members of Congress and their staff on Tuesday, Feb. 24 on what a one-in-a-million disorder can tell us about some of the most common brain diseases – and one couple’s efforts to find a cure. The Society for Neuroscience co-sponsored the briefing with the American Brain Coalition, the American Academy of Neurology, and the Alzheimer’s Association. The briefing featured:
- Former SfN Councilor Virginia Lee, professor of pathology and lab medicine at the University of Pennsylvania
- Steven Dekosky, vice president and dean of the University of Virginia School of Medicine
- Sonia Vallabh and Eric Minikel, co-founders of Prion Alliance, who have redirected their lives to find a cure for fatal familial insomnia.
First Appropriations Hearing of the Year
The first appropriations hearing of 2014 was held on February 26. The subcommittee that appropriates funds to NIH held a hearing on the rising cost of Alzheimer’s disease in America. Francis Collins, NIH director, Richard Hodes, director of NIA; Story Landis, director of NINDS; former Rep. Dennis Moore, a Florida Democrat; Michael Hurd, analyst at the RAND Corporation; and Seth Rogan, celebrity spokesperson for the Alzheimer’s Association, all testified at the hearing, which made a strong case for increased funding for the NIH.
First Congressional Biomedical Caucus Briefing of 2014 Features the BRAIN Initiative
On February 26, Dr. Cori Bargmann, co-chair of the NIH’s BRAIN Initiative working group, spoke at a briefing entitled “The BRAIN Initiative: Building on a Century of Basic Research.” She made the case for the BRAIN Initiative by noting why the time is ripe for interdisciplinary research focused on circuits.
Congressional Hearing on Neuroscience Funding
Dr. John Holdren, director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy; Dr. John Wingfield, assistant director for the Directorate of Biological Sciences at NSF; and Alan Leshner, CEO of AAAS, testified at a hearing for the House Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Subcommittee titled, “Federal Investments in Neuroscience Research.” The hearing touched on the Fattah Neuroscience Initiative, the BRAIN Initiative, the work and results of the Interagency Working Group on Neuroscience, U.S. global leadership, potential for international collaboration, and maintaining diversity among both PIs and types and locations of research institutions. Alan Leshner cited the SfN annual meeting as the premier example of fostering international collaboration among neuroscientists.
The Policy Mix
New Director of NSF Confirmed
Dr. France Cordova was confirmed as director of NSF by the Senate on March 12. President Obama nominated Dr. Cordova, an astrophysicist, for a six-year term last summer. The current acting director, Dr. Cora Marrett, will return to her position as deputy NSF director.
White House “Call to Action” for BRAIN Initiative
The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy is asking companies, nonprofits or universities to share stories about their activities that advance the goals of the BRAIN Initiative. Later this year, the White House will hold an event to feature the role of these organizations in achieving the President’s vision. Learn more at the OSTP blog.
Final Report Released by NSTC Interagency Working Group on Neuroscience
The Interagency Working Group on Neuroscience recently released a report, “Priorities for Accelerating Neuroscience Research through Enhanced Communication, Coordination, and Collaboration,” which calls on U.S. federal agencies to coordinate their efforts and work collaboratively to accelerate progress in neuroscience. The report calls for a broad and comprehensive approach to basic and applied neuroscience research.