2015 Research Advocacy Highlights
During 2015, ASH has continued to be one of the most visible advocates for federal support of biomedical research and funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and took the following actions:
- Grassroots Advocacy Campaigns – ASH developed several on-line advocacy campaigns for all Grassroots Network members to join to urge Congress to avert further cuts to medical research. Members can visit the ASH Advocacy Center to find a sample letter supporting funding for NIH; they can then enter their contact information, and the site will send the letter directly to their Representative and Senators. Information is also included about how to contact Members of Congress via phone. During the past year, members of the ASH Grassroots Network sent thousands of messages to Capitol Hill in support of NIH funding.
Hill Days and Congressional Visits – Hundreds of congressional visits were made by the ASH Committee on Government Affairs, ASH Advocacy Leadership Institute participants, ASH Officers, and other ASH members throughout the year. The message conveyed to Members of Congress and their staff focused on the value of NIH and the need to support research funding by restoring funding lost due to sequestration and other recent budget cuts. Some highlights from ASH member meetings throughout the year are shown below.
Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) greeting ASH members Dr. James Driscoll (University of Cincinnati), Dr. Jane Little (Case Western Reserve University/University Hospitals), Dr. Alan Lichtin (Cleveland Clinic), and Dr. Aziz Nazha (Cleveland Clinic) during an October 29 meeting on Capitol Hill.
ASH member Dr. Wendy Darlington (University of Chicago) and participants of the 2015 ASH Advocacy Leadership Institute meeting with Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) to thank him for his support of NIH.
ASH member Dr. Ravi Patel (University of Iowa) meeting with Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA).
ASH Committee on Government Affairs members Drs. Timothy Graubert (Massachusetts General Hospital), Steven Allen (Monter Cancer Center), Alan Rosmarin (University of Massachusetts Medical School), Jonathan Hoggatt (Massachusetts General Hospital) and Paul Frenette (Albert Einstein College of Medicine) meeting with Representative Jim McGovern (D-MA) in March 2015.
- White House and Congressional Leadership Meetings – ASH was one of a small group of leaders in the health community invited to the White House to discuss the impact of cuts on research. ASH staff also met with key congressional leadership to discuss NIH funding.
- Testimony – Earlier this year, during hearings concerning the FY 2016 federal budget, ASH submitted written testimony to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees supporting funding for NIH and urging the committees to recognize the progress and potential future advances shown by hematology research.
- Coalition Activities – ASH continues to work with the Coalition for Health Funding (CHF), the Ad Hoc Group for Medical Research, and members of the biomedical research community to advocate on behalf of NIH. ASH contributed updates to the CHF report "Faces of Austerity, How Budget Cuts Hurt America's Health," which shares the stories of scientists, public health advocates, and others who have been hurt by deep budget cuts enacted by Congress in recent years. In the Faces of Austerity report, an ASH Bridge Grant recipient details how a decade of flat funding for NIH and recent budget cuts threaten promising blood disease research.
The Society also continues to work with NDD United, an alliance of national, state, and local organizations concerned about cuts to non-defense discretionary (NDD) programs – including NIH – to advocate for a balanced approach to deficit reduction that does not include further cuts to these programs. In September, NDD United presented a letter signed by more than 2,500 groups (including ASH) to all congressional offices demanding that Congress end sequestration through a bipartisan budget deal. To further raise the campaign’s visibility, the letter was also accompanied with a special ball cap with the reminder "Raise the Caps" printed on front.
Additionally, ASH was once again a sponsor and supporter of the Rally for Medical Research Hill Day, held September 17 in Washington, DC. Participants from more than 300 partnering organizations met with more than 250 House and Senate offices to call on our nation's policymakers to make funding for the NIH a priority and raise awareness about the importance of continued investment in scientific research that ultimately leads to more progress, more hope and more lives saved.
- Member Stories – ASH has collected stories on the impact of NIH budget cuts to share with Congress, the media, and key stakeholders. ASH members are encouraged to continue sharing stories of how NIH funding affects their research, patients, or career.
Additional materials, comment letters, and testimony concerning ASH advocacy related to NIH funding can be found on the ASH website.