Science policy news weekly update: December 9, 2016

 

The ASBMB’s Public Affairs Department encourages all readers of the Policy Blotter to alert the office about interesting and relevant articles. Please send tips to astothert@asbmb.org.

What’s new in Blotter news?

The ASBMB’s director of public affairs, Ben Corb, provides a statement on behalf of the ASBMB regarding the passing of the 21st Century Cures Act in the U.S. House and Senate.

ASBMB statement on passage of 21st Century Cures

On Nov. 29, the ASBMB held a congressional briefing regarding the impact of a continuing resolution on biomedical research. The ASBMB’s science policy fellow, Andrew Stothert, provides highlights from the briefing.

ASBMB congressional briefing: a continuing resolution’s impact on research

 

The 21st Century Cures Act now moves on to the Oval Office for signing into law by President Obama. Obama hailed the bill’s passage and has vowed to sign it into law Dec. 13. This bill will provide $4.8 billion to the National Institutes of Health over the next decade to be used for the cancer moonshot, BRAIN initiative, and Precision Medicine Initiative. Despite overwhelming bipartisan congressional support, and this being the largest piece of healthcare legislation passed in Congress since The Affordable Care Act in 2010, there are still many critics. Specifically, many in the scientific community are concerned with the bill reducing FDA regulations allowing expedited approval paths for new drugs and medical devices.

Major medical innovation and anti-opioid bill poised to become law (USA Today)

Cures Act gains bipartisan support that eluded Obama health law (NY Times)

With 21st Century Cures Act, the future of regenerative medicine is “inject and see” (Wired)

 

This week, the House Appropriations Committee proposed extending the current continuing budget resolution until April 28, preventing a government shutdown. This would mean that federally funded agencies, including the Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, and National Science Foundation, would continue to function at their fiscal 2016 levels for the foreseeable future. This news could have major implications for the biomedical research community, as the NIH will be operating with a budget that won’t allow the implementation of new programs without additional appropriations from Congress. Moreover, with the incoming Trump administration, many in the scientific community fear that a yearlong continuing resolution is likely. Some Democrats, however, are threatening a government shutdown if certain funding measures are not met in the proposed continuing resolution.

Stopgap spending bill leaves US scientists in limbo (Nature)

Democrats push government towards shutdown (Politico)

 

Living in the age of social media, the last election cycle brought to light the divisiveness that has always existed in this country. This divisiveness has since spilled over into the scientific community, where everyone has a strong opinion, and disagreements are fodder for Facebook or Twitter tirades. While it is evident than many in the scientific community are less than thrilled with the incoming Trump administration, in order for science to continue progressing and be trusted as objective, scientists need to focus less on politics and more on their research, argues Julie Kelly of the National Review.

Scientists should stop mixing their work with politics (National Review)

 

President-elect Donald Trump has called for major investments in public infrastructure. These proposed investments range from our electrical grid to our economy. However, in terms of the nation’s long-term competitiveness and health, we must rebuild the eroding financial commitment to fundamental science, argues L. Rafael Reif of The Wall Street Journal. Dwindling financial support for the sciences delays economic and technological growth of our nation. As we are in the “golden-age” of innovation, and there are more scientists and engineers than ever before, the lack of translation to improving the everyday American standard of living threatens to stymie productivity, says Greg Ip of The Wall Street Journal.

The dividends of funding basic science (The Wall Street Journal) *Subscription Required*

The economy’s hidden problem: we’re out of big ideas (The Wall Street Journal) * Subscription Required*

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