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Breakthrough Advocacy for Public Health Research


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Title: Breakthrough Advocacy for Public Health Research

Breakthrough Advocacy for Public Health Research
Mary WoolleyPresident, Research!AmericaPublic
Health Advocacy CampaignsThe George Washington
UniversitySeptember 29, 2008
Every public health decision is made on a
political decision. William Foege, MD,
MPH September 10, 2003 Senior Fellow, Bill
Melinda Gates Foundation Former Director, CDC
Research!Americas Mission
  • Make medical and health research, including
    research to prevent disease, disability and
    injury, a much higher national priority

Research!America Goals
  • Ensure that the public hears about research and
    its benefits
  • Achieve more funding for medical and health
  • Advocate a policy climate that stimulates rather
    than impedes research
  • Empower others to advocate for medical and health

Research!America 19 Years of Putting Research on
the Public Agenda
  • Non-profit alliance with 500 member organizations
    drawn from academia, business, patient
    organizations and scientific societies
    representing more than 125 million Americans
  • Distinguished, all-volunteer board includes
    former elected and appointed officials, media and
    public relations leaders, and leaders from
    alliance member organizations

Select Research!America Accomplishments
  • Leadership in doubling the National Institutes of
    Health budget (1999-2003)
  • Leadership in public opinion polling on medical
    and health research
  • Leadership in message development for research
  • Leadership in media attention to research
  • Leadership internationally to spur advocacy for

Research!America is an innovator in public
education and advocacy for research
What We Faced in 1989
  • Preoccupation by Congress and the Administration
    with deficit reduction and competition for
    appropriations in a resource-scarce environment
    have resulted in woeful under funding of
    government agencies involved in medical research
  • from Research!Americas Charter

we recommend increasing the NIH budget by 15
per year, which would double the budget in
current dollars by 1998. J. Michael Bishop,
Marc Kirschner, Harold Varmus Science. January
22, 1993
Early-Mid-1990s - Barriers to Achieving Doubling
  • U.S. economy struggling
  • Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton not
    vocal champions for NIH
  • Handful of Congressional champions
  • Members of Congress and American public
    unfamiliar with NIH
  • Stakeholders focused on disease-specific advocacy
  • Researchers resistant to public engagement

Strategy for Success
  • Public opinion polling nationally and in states
    of key members of Congress
  • Development of messages
  • Tracking investment in research to create
    baseline metric
  • Grassroots plus grasstops advocacy strategies
  • Earned and paid media attention
  • Commitment of thousands of members of voluntary
    health organizations
  • Chartering a single-purpose lobbying organization
  • Engagement of Congressional leaders

History of NIH Doubling
1998 13.6 Billion
1999 15.6 Billion 14.7 ?
2000 17.8 Billion 14.1 ?
2001 20.3 Billion 14.0 ?
2002 23.6 Billion 15.8 ?
2003 27.2 Billion 15.3 ?
The driving force behind the huge 15 increase
in the NIH budget to 15.6 billion was an
umbrella organization called Research!America.
Al Hunt The Wall Street Journal December 24, 1998
  • Thinking BIG
  • Persistence Over Time
  • Bringing the community togetherOne message/many
  • Overcoming resistance by research community to
  • Public opinion polling
  • Mainstream media attention
  • Advocacy

The goal has to feel like history.
Incrementalism leaves the audience in a
snooze. Bono as quoted in The New York Times
Magazine in reference to his call for 100 debt
cancellation of the 6 billion the poorest
African countries owe the U.S. September 18, 2005
PARADE/Research!America Poll What Americans
Think About Medical Research March 21, 2004
As a member of the U.S. Senate, it is incumbent
upon me to hear the public voice about important
issues. Research!America, through its national
surveys, gives me added evidence of the
importance of medical and health research to our
citizenryinformation necessary to make informed
decisions where the publics welfare is
concerned. Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA), Ranking
Member, LHHS Subcommittee
In Retrospect
  • It was a mistake to sell doubling NIH as an end
    in itself/the goal line
  • Doubling was really only the starting point or
  • Inadequate attention to whats next after

Advocacy for NIH funding remains a
Research!America goalIn addition, we are
working on other campaigns
Campaign for Public Health
  • Evan Jones, chairman, Campaign for Public Health,
    chairman of the board, Digene Corporation
  • CPH is comprised of prominent leaders in the
    public health community dedicated to advocacy
    that will accelerate the growth of federal
    appropriations for the Centers for Disease
    Control and Prevention.
  • Karl B. Moeller, Executive Director
(No Transcript)
Whats Happening to Accomplish This Goal
  • House and Senate Staff Trips to Centers for
    Disease Control Prevention in Atlanta
  • Creation of Congressional Study Group on Public
  • Advertising
  • Business Leader Engagement

Election Day is November 4!
Elections have a way of sorting things
out. The Honorable John Edward
PorterResearch!America Chair
The New York Times The Words They Used
If you listened to the speeches in Denver and
St. Paul, you might have noticed a conspicuous
absencethere was very little talk about science
at the conventions. Maybe a passing mention of
health care or global warming here and there in
the speeches, but little or no talk of embryonic
stem cell research or the funding for our
research institutions like the National
Institutes of Health. Ira Flatow, host of
Science Friday, on the Sept. 5 broadcast
Health and the Election.
Guest Mary Woolley
Increasing the focus on prevention and wellness
is a critical part of my health care plan. Under
my plan, we will realize tremendous savings
within the health care system from, among other
things, improvements in prevention and management
of chronic conditions. I believe that the CDC
plays a critical role in our nations health care
and national security infrastructure, and I will
ensure the CDC has the resources it needs to
fulfill its public health mission. Sen.
Barack Obama, in his response to the 2008 Your
Candidates-Your Health voter education
Focusing on prevention and wellness is an
important aspect of my health care plan. I
strongly support funding for CDC. CDC plays an
important role in not only promoting better
health for Americans through better management of
chronic care diseases and encouraging healthier
lifestyle habits but also strengthens our
homeland security by combating bioterrorism
threats, pandemics and promoting emergency
preparedness. Sen. John McCain, in his
response to the 2008 Your Candidates-Your Health
voter education initiative.
Invitations are also being extended to all 2008
Congressional candidates after each states
Congressional primary. More than 240
Congressional candidates have already responded.
Our Partners in Your Candidates-Your Health
As Thanksgiving approaches, Research!America and
the leading U.S. public health organizations ask
Americans to give special thanks to their state
and local public health heroes who protect the
nations health throughout the year.
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