NAEVR Joins with the Biomedical Research and Educational Institution Advocacy Communities To Urge Scientific Agency Support in Stimulus Package

These have been and will continue to be uncertain times for biomedical research as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although Congress has passed three supplemental packages that include COVID-19 vaccine development and related surveillance activities at NIH and CDC, these do not address research issues that scientific agency grantees face, including supplements to support ramp-down/ramp-up/lab maintenance costs, support for core research facilities, and funding for graduate students/postdoctoral fellowships. The biomedical research and educational institution advocacy community has joined in urging Congress to support such activities in a fourth stimulus package. Recent actions have included:

  • In March 19 and April 7 letters to Congressional leaders, the Association of American Universities, the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities, the Association of American Medical Colleges, and the American Council on Education called on Congress to include a supplemental appropriation for major research agencies over the next four months, including the NIH, to ensure grantee funding in the research ramp-down and ramp-up activities, as well as laboratory maintenance activities. The 4/7 letter specifically requested $26 billion.
  • On April 29, Cong. Diana DeGette (D-CO) and Cong. Fred Upton (R-MI) sent a letter to House leadership with nearly 200 bipartisan colleagues urging Congressional leadership to include

$26 billion to support federal research agencies. On May 4, Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) and Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) sent a letter to Senate leadership with 33 bipartisan supporters seeking similar support as in the earlier House letter.

  • On April 27, the Ad Hoc Group for Medical Research (to which NAEVR and ARVO belong) sent a letter to House and Senate leadership urging the inclusion of $31 bill in emergency supplemental investments in NIH, detailing the needs as follows: additional COVID-19-related research; near-term response for ramping up NIH-supported research activities to preserve the momentum of the biomedical research enterprise; long-term investments; and enabling continuation of robust and necessary investments through regular appropriations.

In addition to stimulus support, the biomedical research community has worked with key House members to ensure that all possible options to develop a COVID-19 vaccine are available, including those that use fetal tissue. Recent action included:

  • On April 6, Congs. Jared Huffman (D-CA), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), and Diana DeGette (D-CO) led a letter with ten additional signatories urging Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Secretary Alex Azar to remove Trump Administration restrictions on NIH-funded human fetal tissue research and to “prioritize science during an unprecedented global health emergency,” arguing that NIH is unable to explore all possible options to develop vaccines and therapeutics against COVID-19.This follows the April 1 introduction of the Protecting Cures Act of 2020 (H.R. 6417) by Congs. Schakowsky and Mark Pocan (D-WI) that ensures all biomedical research tools—including fetal tissue—are available to develop vaccines/treatments against COVID-19.