Weekly Advocacy News Roundup
Obama Makes Risky Bid to Increase Science Spending
February 10, 2016 | Scientific American
In his newly released fiscal year 2017 budget plan, the President calls for a 4% bump in research and development funding across the federal government. But science advocates and lawmakers alike say that they’re unhappy with Obama’s decision to boost science by relying on ‘mandatory’ spending. Normally, research funding is ‘discretionary’, meaning that Congress decides how much money each agency will receive. But lawmakers have little leeway to adjust mandatory programs, making them a tough sell to Congress, which must approve the government’s budget.
- See more about the government funding of neuroscience research at SfN.org.
Amid Funding Dispute, Senate Biomedical Innovation Effort Teeters Ahead
February 9, 2016 | Science Magazine
This week, the Senate moved forward with several bills that are a part of companion legislation to the House's 21st Century Cures Act, but lawmakers disagreed about mandatory funding for federal health agencies. In the first of three scheduled hearings, the Senate’s health committee has approved an initial set of proposals aimed at speeding the discovery and development of new medical treatments. This legislation has struggled largely because there no clear plan for how to pay for the bill.
- Watch a webinar about how federal funding affects your science at SfN.org
U.S. House Passes Controversial Bill on NSF Research
February 11, 2016 | Science Magazine
The House of Representatives this week voted on the Scientific Research in the National Interest Act (HR 3293), which aims to ensure “greater accountability” of the government’s investment in basic research performed by NSF. The bill passed by a 236 to 178 vote, with lawmakers voted largely along party lines; just seven Democrats voting in favor of the bill and four Republicans against. Many view this legislation as a political litmus test that would allow Republicans to trim research by social scientists and those studying climate change.
- Learn more about how NSF funds neuroscientific research at SfN.org.
Canadian Universities Push for Increased Funding Ahead of Federal Budget
February 10, 2016 | The Globe & Mail
Canadian universities have been lobbying hard in advance of the release of the federal budget, hoping to secure increases to untargeted research funding, more experiential learning opportunities for students, and a dedicated slice of the government’s infrastructure spending. An additional goal of the science and industry sector is to move Canada back up in the global research and innovation rankings.
- Read about Canadian neuroscience advocacy programs at SfN.org.
Articles of Interest
New Report Outlines NFL Interference in Concussion Research
February 9, 2016 | Ars Technica
The NFL, one of the largest funders of brain research in the U.S., has subtly worked to influence research efforts and downplay the link between brain disease and football, a new investigative report by ESPN's Outside the Lines alleges. The report raises new questions about several recent studies by NFL-funded researchers, including one that the league used to justify ditching impact-tracking sensors in players' helmets. In related football/brain injury news surrounding SuperBowl weekend, Joe Namath announced plans to leave his brain to science for concussion and brain injury research.
- Learn more about the study of concussion and brain injury at BrainFacts.org.
Pentagon 'Puppy Project' Scientist Defends Work as Research, Not Waste
February 8, 2016 | Military Times
In January, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., released the third draft of his “America’s Most Wasted” report, chronicling “wasteful spending” among government program budgets. Included was the work of a DARPA-funded researcher performing fMRI on canines in order to assess neurological markers that might help predict which dogs are most effective at sniffing out bombs and explosives.
- Join the advocacy network to stay informed and take action on issues related to neuroscience research at SfN.org.
New Ways Into the Brain’s ‘Music Room’
February 8, 2016 | Salon
Researchers at MIT have devised a new approach to brain imaging that reveals how the brain responds to music. By mathematically analyzing scans of the auditory cortex and grouping clusters of brain cells with similar activation patterns, the scientists have identified neural pathways that react almost exclusively to the sound of music — any music.
- Learn about how playing music can benefit the brain BrainFacts.org.
Budget 2017: Mandatory Spending Dims Prospects for Obama’s Budget
February 11, 2016 | Science Magazine
This week, President Obama may have broken the truce achieved in last year’s budget agreement, at least in the eyes of most Republicans. Namely, his new budget request aims to use revenue not covered by that agreement to boost the budgets of several research agencies, including NIH and NSF. The fiscal ‘slight-of-hand’ is likely to trigger even more of a partisan standoff with Congress and darken an already cloudy picture for U.S. researchers who rely on federal funding.
- View science funding advocacy tools at SfN.org.