BREAKTHROUGHS BLOG

April 09, 2013

Rally for medical research: Building a grassroots movement to make medical research a higher national priority

Communications Intern
Research!America
Global Health Intern
Research!America

In this guest post, Megan Kane, PhD, communications intern, and Morgan McCloskey, global health intern, from Research!America write about a rally earlier this week in support for health science and research. This is the second post in a series about the Rally for Medical Research.

Thousands of scientists, patients, and research advocates gathered together on the grounds of the Carnegie Library in Washington, DC, on April 8 to unite behind a call for increased funding for medical research. The Rally for Medical Research was organized by the American Association for Cancer Researchers in conjunction with its annual meeting and was supported by over 200 partnering organizations.

Survivors of heart disease, stroke, HIV, Type 1 diabetes, and other debilitating diseases shared their stories. Former POZ magazine editor Regan Hoffman discussed her HIV diagnosis and shared her gratitude for the antiretroviral treatments that allow her to live with this disease. However, she also spoke of the millions of other HIV-positive individuals around the globe who don’t have access to treatment and of her continued hope for a day when science will bring a cure for all those who suffer from HIV.

Thousands of scientists, patients, and research advocates gathered together on the grounds of the Carnegie Library in Washington, DC, on April 8 to unite behind a call for increased funding for medical research. Credit: Research!America
Thousands of scientists, patients, and research advocates gathered together on the grounds of the Carnegie Library in Washington, DC, on April 8 to unite behind a call for increased funding for medical research. Credit: Research!America

Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), as well as research leaders, spoke about the impact of medical research on their lives. Marc Tessier-Lavigne, president of the Rockefeller University and former chief scientific officer of Genentech, said that sequestration cuts on top of flat-funded research budgets are damaging basic science research. He added that industry will not fill this gap in health research. The event also featured messages in support of research from Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Rep. David McKinley (R-WV).

Closing the ceremony, the Honorable John Edwards Porter, former Congressman and chair of Research!America, encouraged rally attendees to continue the grassroots movement from Monday’s rally in their hometowns and to take the fight to their congressional representatives. Porter said that previous efforts to convince policymakers to increase funding for the National Institutes of Health have not yet been successful and called on scientists to be “intellectual activists” and get “fighting mad.” He encouraged advocates to appeal to Congress on personal levels as well as using the hard facts about the costs of disease.

“It’s time for them to step up and have the courage to do their jobs,” Porter said of elected officials. “The job of Congress—appropriators, leadership, every Member—is to choose national priorities going forward and put national resources behind them. … These are people that are accountable to you. … If you can’t get involved and get passionate about what medical research means to our country and our future, who can?”

Medical research has the power not only to improve lives here at home, but around the globe. Research!America encourages you to join in with rally attendees and participate in the text petition to Congress, contact your representatives in Congress directly or write a letter to the editor of your local paper.

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