NeuroAdvocates Speak for the Community During SfN’s Hill Days
Now in its third year as an all-online event, SfN’s Hill Days connected NeuroAdvocates with their U.S. federal representatives to share the priorities of the neuroscience community. In total, 40 participants held 73 meetings covering 27 states from March 6–8.
“Most of the science in the U.S. is federally-funded, meaning by taxpayers,” said Hill Day participant Hilary Marusak, assistant professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences at Wayne State University School of Medicine. “If we want to remain at the cutting edge of biomedical research and continue to make great headway on debilitating brain disorders – like Alzheimer’s, depression, and PTSD – we need to continue to invest and increase our investments over time.”
Prepared with federal research funding statistics at the state level and an SfN-led training session, NeuroAdvocates went into each meeting with policymakers with four “asks”:
- Increase to appropriations (budgets) for NIH by $3.465 billion to $50.924 billion (including funding the BRAIN initiative at $740 million), NSF to $11.9 billion, and the Veterans Affairs Medical and Prosthetic Research Program to $980 million
- Support the continued well-regulated, ethical use of animals in research
- Participate in a lab tour
- Join a neuroscience-related caucus, an organization that provides briefings and information to its congressional members
To maximize its effectiveness and represent the diversity of the neuroscience community, SfN’s Hill Day brings together many groups of NeuroAdvocates. One group is the 2023 Early Career Policy Ambassadors (ECPAs). The ECPA program is a 10-month commitment for early career neuroscientists beginning their efforts as NeuroAdvocates. Ambassadors gain the necessary skills to advocate for science funding and to encourage those in their personal networks to join the conversation.
“I applied to the ECPA program to gain a deeper understanding of the intersections between neuroscience and policy,” said ECPA Monserrat Orozco, graduate student in the Department of Neuroscience at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine. “In addition, it is important to me to improve my ability [to advocate for], and be able to discuss the importance of, federal and state support for neuroscience research — particularly related to substance use disorders — with legislatures, colleagues, and communities in New Mexico.”
Supporting the ECPAs were veteran NeuroAdvocates including SfN’s Key Contacts, engaged NeuroAdvocates who are represented by members of Congress in leadership roles. Members of SfN’s Government and Public Affairs Committee (GPA), Committee on Animals in Research (CAR), as well as SfN’s President Oswald Steward and President-Elect Marina Picciotto, shared their perspectives as established federally-funded researchers with elected officials.