NeuroAdvocates Capitalize on Policy Momentum
The past year was successful and active for SfN neuroscience advocates (NeuroAdvocates). Thanks to SfN members and the entire biomedical research community, NIH and NSF received increases in the federal budget for the fourth consecutive year. In FY19, NIH received another $2 billion increase to its budget — resulting in $9 billion in increases over the last four years. Through the actions and efforts of NeuroAdvocates, basic neuroscience research continues to be a high national priority.
Advocacy Makes a Difference
This past year, NeuroAdvocates sent more than 2,800 messages on policies related to the biomedical research enterprise to their elected officials. This messaging was reinforced when SfN members, including Local Advocacy Key Contacts and the current class of Early Career Policy Ambassadors, hosted nine lab tours around the country for members of Congress and their staff.
“Often it's easy to spend all day in lab and you can get caught up and forget the bigger picture,” said Christopher Sundby, graduate student at Vanderbilt University. “And I think it actually makes your research better when you're engaged and think about how your research impacts the community at large.”
Additionally, NeuroAdvocates participated in a variety of coalition events throughout the year. In collaboration with the SfN advocacy staff, activities included meetings with legislators and their staff on Capitol Hill, discussions with NIH officials and other administration leadership, Hill briefings, and health fairs. All of these activities better inform members of Congress, elevate the importance of basic research and the need for robust and consistent funding, and contribute to this positive trend in federal research funding.
Earlier in 2018, SfN President Rick Huganir submitted testimony to the relevant appropriations committees in support of increased federal funding for NIH and NSF. To reinforce established messaging promoting biomedical research, SfN members and staff met with 24 Hill offices in addition to the 93 meetings held by advocates during the annual Hill Day. These coordinated efforts resulted in visible victories in 2018, including language accompanying the FY19 appropriations bill that funded NIH highlighting the fifth anniversary of the BRAIN Initiative and commending the efforts of the National Institute of Mental Health and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
Continued Focus in 2019
Looking toward the 2019 advocacy agenda, SfN is excited to collaborate even more with the growing base of sophisticated NeuroAdvocates. This includes the nearly 150 individuals that have been trained to be confident and effective science advocates. Immediate opportunities to engage in future advocacy efforts include downloading and using the new SfN Advocacy App and reviewing the Advocacy Best Practices. An upcoming webinar, “Building and Maintaining Relationships with Members of Congress,” will be available in February on Neuronline.
It’s important to maintain the drumbeat highlighting neuroscience as a critical investment and for all SfN members to engage in advocating for research funding. Subscribe to and continue to watch the Advocacy Network to know when to take action on legislation surrounding biomedical research science policy in the new year.