Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Do You Know Your Members of Congress?

Either way, today is the day to get in touch with your member in the House of Representatives.

The House is currently crafting a spending bill that may include unprecedented funding cuts to NIH, NSF, CDC, AHRQ and FDA. These cuts represent a major threat to the nation’s health, job growth and competitiveness.

It is critical that you contact your representatives TODAY so they know that cuts to American research are unacceptable.

It's about your job. Your health and the future well-being of your family. It takes 30 seconds to send a message and another 30 seconds to share with your contacts via email or Facebook.

Your minute could be the constituent voice that convinces Congress to protect research.

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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Blending Art and Science in the Classroom

The connection between art and science can be difficult to make. The exacting precision of studio art and the precise exercise of a lab experiment seem similar in words alone. As STEM education becomes more and more critical, and funding for the arts are cut from school budgets, perhaps it is time for these two strangers to become partners in education. Not sure it can be done? This ARTstronomy project in Dublin lays out the steps to bridging art and science.

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Monday, March 28, 2011

Profiles of Promise

“Medical care cost is reduced. And then, of course, it gives people this hope and the opportunity to enter back into the work force and become productive members of society.”
~Representative Dave Reichert (R-WA-8)

Above are excerpts from Profiles of Promise – a campaign lead by United for Medical Research that highlights Members of Congress who have distinguished themselves through advocacy for health research.

Congressman Reichert’s quote says it all. We know that investments in health research can not only reduce the cost of medical care, but enable people to live more productive lives. This message is even more salient at a time when the nation’s budget deficit is being driven by unprecedented spending for health care. Better and more cost effective treatments offer a way to bend the cost curve.

But there’s something to be said for increased productivity too. When we’re productive, we’re working and earning an income, which means we’re paying into the tax system. Tax revenue, in turn, will help governments at the local, state, and federal level that are still reeling from the down economy. These revenues will enable government to fill the funding gap with domestic dollars rather than continuing to borrow from overseas.

Without a doubt, medical research is part of the solution to today’s biggest challenges. Profiles of Promise recognizes leaders from both sides of the aisle who understand and act on this. As you look at the members profiled in the campaign, try to find your representatives and if you do find them, be sure to thank them for standing up for medical research. If you can’t find your members of Congress featured, ask yourself, why isn’t my representative here?

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Friday, March 25, 2011

10 Minute Drill

If you only have ten minutes to spend online this weekend, this is where you should be headed to read up on some fun and interesting research-related news.

For lovers of Academy Award winning films and speech impediments.

Is being honest really just about willpower?

Maybe it's because I recently finished reading Water for Elephants, but either way there's something to be said about the intelligence of these giant mammals.

In the policy/job hunting arena, take a look at potential effects of recent patent reforms on small biotechs.

And finally, a discussion on what really makes a PhD a PhD.

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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Medicine's Future is Up Close and Personal

Today's guest blogger Arifeen Rahman, an intern with Scientists and Engineers for America (SEA), takes a stand for personalized medicine.

In 2000, Adriana Jenkins’ life was just starting to blossom. She was 31 years old, engaged to the love of her life, and a successful publicist for biotech companies. In 2001, Jenkins was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer. Her doctors told her that she had a 40% chance of survival for the next five years.

In the face of these odds, a small glimmer of hope emerged. Jenkins’ doctors uncovered that she had the genetic marker HER2, found in 25% of all breast cancer patients. And at the time, the pharmaceutical company Genentech was developing Herceptin, a drug designed to specifically target breast cancers driven by the mutation in HER2. Jenkins enrolled in Genentech’s clinical trials for Herceptin, and in a triumph over her five-year odds, she lived for 10. Before Jenkins passed away at the age of 41, she wrote a piece for Forbes Magazine, urging Congress to incentivize research in “personalized medicine.”

Jenkins’ story demonstrates the revolutionary power of this new field. Personalized medicine unearths great possibilities through a relatively simple idea: genetic makeup should directly inform individualized healthcare. Patients can uncover mutations in their DNA through a diagnostic test, and doctors can then prescribe drugs designed to target genetic mutations which drive certain diseases. These “personalized” drugs have a higher chance of successfully treating the disease. In addition to helping consumers, personalized medicine can benefit the pharmaceutical industry. Developing drugs that work across the board takes a long time to accomplish. Focusing on a narrower set of patients with genetic markers allows biotech companies to make larger strides in progress.

Still, personalized medicine has its potential drawbacks. On one hand, genetic testing could lead to a progressive, individualized approach to medicine. On the other hand, genetic testing could devolve into a twisted new game of looking at a consumer’s medical horoscope. The personalized medicine market is growing at an exponential rate of 11.56% every year. It is projected to be a $148.4 billion industry by 2015. The profit incentive of mass marketing direct-to-consumer genetic test kits could lead to uninformed decision-making by consumers, who might misinterpret genetic markers as fate. Genetic testing offers an insight into our body’s makeup and behavior, but it does not give definitive predictions of our health in the future.

Even with its limitations and potential drawbacks, personalized medicine remains a beacon of hope for the present and future, bringing us closer to unraveling the mysteries of the human body. However, several roadblocks remain on the way to making personalized medicine a widespread reality. Even though scientific research on genetics is rapidly evolving, the current business climate is not conducive to a greater focus on personalized medicine. Biotech companies have voiced concerns that further narrowing their target populations will create a smaller market and destroy profitability.

The key to reversing this trend is gaining Congressional support for personalized medicine. Federally funded grants and incentives for developing specialized drugs can bridge the current gap of uncertainty. At the same time, dwindling research budgets must be reinvigorated. To stimulate change, and grant Adriana Jenkins her dying wish, personalized medicine should be placed front and center on the political stage. This developing field can give millions like Jenkins a priceless extension of life – but only if we make it a priority.

Arifeen is a junior at Saint Francis High School in Mountain View, CA. As an editor of her school newspaper and captain of the Saint Francis Speech and Debate team, she is excited to combine her passion for writing and research with her career goal of being involved in the sciences. In her spare time, Arifeen paints, swims, and writes short stories.

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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Patient Voice: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Photo credit: o5com on Flickr
Note: This image is not of anyone related to this post.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a largely misunderstood condition, which makes March, National CFS Awareness Month, all the more important in bringing it to light. New Voices interviewed a young woman living with CFS symptoms since 2007. From diagnosis to treatment to daily life, she has faced difficulties that many people don’t understand and some people don’t even recognize as a real condition. Thank you to Carol, whose name has been changed, for sharing her story.

New Voices (NV): How would you describe CFS to those people who don’t understand it, especially those who are skeptical of it being a real condition?

Carol: CFS is more than just being tired. It’s not just a minor inconvenience that you work around. It’s an everyday occurrence that is often more debilitating than just a nuisance. CFS demands serious lifestyle changes. Fatigue is definitely a large part of it, but it usually isn’t the most problematic symptom for me. Digestive issues, muscle and joint pain, vertigo, migraine headaches, feeling cold, having trouble focusing, memory problems, and many other symptoms find their way into daily life for someone with CFS.

NV: What kind of limits do you face in your daily activities? Are there particular things that people might otherwise take for granted?

Carol: A large percentage of people with CFS are generally type-A people, so the limits in daily activity are the most frustrating part of the illness. For years, I was incredibly active and involved in everything. I’d play two sports during the same season, while taking dance lessons and staying involved in school clubs and church. I was pretty much never in my dorm room during college because I was involved in so many activities. Now, I can barely work full-time (with three days of telework a week), and I typically crash on most weeknights and weekends.

NV: How does the stigma surrounding CFS affect you – how you cope, who you tell, etc.?

Carol: The stigma surrounding CFS is almost as frustrating as the disease itself. The name implies that I’m just tired all the time. Well, let’s be real – everyone gets really tired at some point, especially in large metro areas with a hurry-up culture. The issue is that most people don’t get past the name of the illness itself to start with. In fact, I had one supervisor who told me that he/she also gets tired a lot and that they could probably get a doctor’s note to work from home, too. They also questioned if I was really sick at all or just using the system to make having a job easier. This is a pretty typical interaction with people who know nothing more than the name of the illness.

NV: Given your experiences, do you find yourself being an advocate about CFS?

Carol: I do, at least in my work, find myself advocating about CFS and explaining it. I’m more focused on getting through the day and keeping up with daily life, but I do find there are moments of education when I get to talk to people about the disease and get past the stigma. It isn’t something that comes up in everyday conversation, but I have talked with a lot of coworkers and family members about CFS.

NV: Do you think that the stigma surrounding CFS has kept people from coming forward and advocating about it?

Carol: Yes, that’s true. If you look at the stories you see in big media, it’s most often people who are well-established in their careers or well-known, so they’re open to talking about their diagnosis. It’s like you have to prove yourself in your work before you can talk about CFS. Because of the stigma, most people don’t want to be known for CFS, let alone advocate.

NV: What message do you have for researchers, who might themselves investigate CFS?

Carol: The research has focused a lot on whether it’s real or not, and finding the cause, but I’d like to see them move forward and look for treatments. We know CFS is here, so let’s deal with it. I don’t know if more stories like mine would help getting people interested and involved, but I hope it does.

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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Star Wars and Whooping Cough?

Found this clip encouraging immunization on Twitter from @sethmnookin about a month ago. What modern classics do you think would be effective for sending public health or research messages today?

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Monday, March 21, 2011

Can Cuts Increase the Deficit?

Comic credit: Clay Bennett, The Christian Science Monitor

Senator Manchin (D-WV) recently sounded an alarm, stating “we cannot ignore the fiscal Titanic of our national debt and deficit.”

He’s right.

Our debt is driven by two factors – a declining revenue stream and increasing government spending. In FY 2010, the federal government spent $3.6 trillion dollars, but our revenue was only $2.2 trillion. To fill the gap, the US borrowed $1.4 trillion dollars.

Clearly, new fiscal policies are necessary if the nation is to move away from deficit spending. Policymakers have the authority to alter revenues (through tax policy) and expenditures (through appropriations).

One of the major drivers of our deficit is spending for health insurance programs; Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP account for $753 billion of federal spending (21% of the budget in 2010). Much of these costs, in turn, are driven by the state of health in US – according to the WHO, the US ranks 37th in the world for overall health indicators.

The bottom line is that unhealthy individuals require more treatment and drive up the cost of care. The US government has historically been very supportive of the health research agencies that can lower the cost of care, foster discovery of new treatments, and seed economic development. But these vital messages have been lost in the vociferous debate over spending.

So what will happen if we cut back on health research? Failure to support health research will increase our debt burden. We need research now more than ever to find innovative solutions to the generational and interlinked challenges that we face.

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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Education Thought-Starter

New Voices is off tomorrow in celebration of a well-done work week. (Wouldn't it be lovely if every Friday was this way?) But never one to leave you hanging - especially on a holiday! - here's a thought starter for you to discuss over some green goodies tonight or about town this weekend:
With all of the cuts being discussed in the budget debates here in Washington, how will this effect the future of STEM education in the U.S.? 
 The conversation starts in the comments.

Hat tip to New Voice @JLVernonPhD who shared this on Twitter. Follow us @NV4Research.

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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Research!America Annual Events

When I first started at Research!America, there was one date I didn't stop hearing about, a fateful Tuesday in March. Each year, our organization hosts four events in one day: a board meeting, an annual meeting, a national forum, and an awards dinner. From breakfast to dessert, it's a day of the best minds and leading voices in the health research and advocacy communities. Yesterday was no exception.

All four of the events of the day are interesting and important, but my favorite every year is the policy-centered National Health Research Forum. I love seeing the leadership of our major health agencies discuss the issues of the day with captains of industry, extraordinary scientists and patient advocates. If you missed it, you can listen to the podcast of the program.

If you have trouble listening to the full audio file, or would like to listen to a particular section, click here.

It's possible there is some bias here because I do a lot of the planning for the Forum. Being an organizer makes it easier to see all the hidden layers of planning and appreciate the level of detail in the event. Like the broken records: most amount of participants in the program ever - both in terms of guests and speakers; fundraising goals met and exceeded; and the incredible diversity of our sponsors. Or the little things: watching advocates network and make connections, seeing all of the new materials we produced this year make their way into interested hands, or having no last-minute emergencies. It makes all of the planning worthwhile to know that more and stronger advocacy for research to improve health was inspired in that ballroom.
By: Heather Benson

Thoughts from other New Voices:

Jamie Vernon
Last night renewed my faith that we have to right tools and the right people to deliver the message to the American people that science is vital to our success as a nation. I have attended star-studded galas in the past, but nothing prepared me for the guest list at Research!America's Advocacy Awards. From my 15-minute conversation with Francis Collins before the event that covered everything from my research interests to my science communication efforts, through to the end, when I shook hands with Charlie Rose and thanked him for his commitment to science, I was overwhelmed with appreciation for Research!America. The speeches from the Honorable John Porter, Dean Kamen and Mayor Bloomberg inspired me to continue to advocate for science. I only hope the message that was delivered to that room will reach beyond the Congressmen and women who were in attendance.

Sara Gallagher
I was very excited to attend Research!America's Advocacy Awards this year. One of the highlights of my evening was getting the opportunity to talk with Mike Castle, the former U.S. Representative from my home state of Delaware, who has always been a supporter of research to improve health.

Christian Torres
For many of us, it seems as if the people who shape our nation's health - government officials, researchers, academics, industry, media, and the public - never truly come together. At last night's dinner, however, I got to see it happen. With 500 people socializing, the conversations might have been light, but it's encouraging to know that there is indeed a large group of engaged, dedicated, and passionate advocates who can take their various interests and connections to the next level. I can only imagine the deep conversations and bold ideas that will develop out of the dinner and our National Forum. At least now I know that talking and working together for health isn't such a stretch of the imagination.

Pallavi Phartiyal
Research!America's annual advocacy awards dinner is an effective reminder of the extent of support that medical research enjoys from a wide cross section of public, especially from unusual suspects outside the research community - from a TV talk show host to a city mayor.

Images courtesy of Mike Gatty.

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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Live Tweeting from Research!America Annual Events

It's a big day for Research!America: our annual meeting, National Health Research Forum, and Advocacy Awards dinner are all on the agenda. If you can't make it, check out our live tweeting below.

If you're with us here at the events, or otherwise want to join the conversation, be sure to use the #nhrf11 (National Health Research Forum) and #raawards (Advocacy Awards dinner) hashtags.

Special note: As soon as we catch our breath tomorrow, we'll write up our favorite moments of the day to share.

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Monday, March 14, 2011

Battle of the Budget

For those hoping for some closure on the fiscal year 2011 budget, don’t hold your breath. The House’s year-long spending bill was voted down by the Senate last week, and the Senate’s alternative also failed to garner enough support to pass.

In place of a budget, House Republicans have introduced yet another short-term spending bill that chips away at government spending to the tune of two billion dollars per week. As long as the House, Senate, and President can find a way to keep the government operating, none can be accused of dropping the ball and causing a government shutdown.

But how much longer can this last? The current fiscal year doesn’t end until Sept. 30, and the budget battles have all but consumed the limited bandwidth of Congress. Granted, budgeting is an important way for the nation to express priorities, but this means that many other substantive issues go unaddressed.

The politics of budgeting are especially important in the face of a down economy and major deficits, but there is also the matter of public policy. Instead of reducing government programs to budgetary line items, we must carefully consider the history and impact of a program before making the decision to cut.

Both the White House and the House Republican majority have instituted measures to enhance the transparency of government decision making. Neither side has provided a thorough rationale for cuts. Like many Americans, I recognize the need to limit government spending, but cuts must be done in the most thoughtful and democratic way possible. I know we can do better.

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Science and Arts: A Pi Day Special

Want to read more?

Check out this post from the New Voices archive: Ode to Pi.

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Friday, March 11, 2011

Friday Round-Up

There's plenty to round-up this week, so without further ado, here are our little found gems of the week:

With the 2012 elections already a point of discussion in most political circles, the idea has again been floated for a PAC to support scientists who want to run for office. And speaking of 2012, make sure you take a look at the President's FY2012 budget request. For more on the budget, check out Christian's Budget 101 post.

New Voice Joe Hanson has a well-written piece on how and why he communicates about science.

Worried about how your online presence and social media might effect your job? When you're updating your online profiles, consider following this well-balanced example from Ricardo Dolmetsch which is personal, yet explains all the pertinent scientific details. Then check out how one expert fixed a Twitter snafu and helped her organization gain a partner.

We absolutely love Jill Hummels' piece, A Geek is a Terrible Thing to Waste, especially as it relates to Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day. Speaking of love, check out this study on how technology is impacting love and sex.

And for space lovers, Discovery's landed from its last scheduled voyage off-planet and NASA's done some really interesting research involving our view of the Sun.

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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Eye of the Tired

Photo credit: flickrPrince on Flickr
Do me a favor. Before you continue reading this post, get up and get away from your computer screen for a few minutes. The rest of this post will be waiting for you when you get back.


There. Don’t your eyes feel better?

It’s “Save Your Vision” week in the US, and while most of us turn a blind eye to our health for the sake of computer screens, TVs, and smartphones, it’s time to take a step back – literally and figuratively.

Take a look at these facts:

If those numbers make you perk up in your chair, good. The American Optometric Association recommends good posture as part of maintaining an eye-healthy environment at your computer. The AOA also recommends keeping the screen 20-28 inches away from your eyes, and 4-5 inches below horizontal eye level. As you did a few seconds ago, take breaks, too. For every two continuous hours of computer use, get away for 15 minutes, or try the 20-20-20 rule: 20 seconds of looking at something 20 feet away, every 20 minutes.

There are, of course, other ways to be kind to your eyes. Researchers have long recommended a diet rich in beta-carotene, which means orange-colored fruits and vegetables (carrots – it’s not a myth!), as well as certain dark green vegetables, like spinach and kale. You should also protect your eyes from UV rays by wearing sunglasses, and avoid developing chronic diseases like diabetes, which can affect your eyes. One other recommendation that’s gaining ground is taking omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in fish and fish oil supplements. A study published in Science Translational Medicine found that mice ingesting omega-3 fatty acids showed less abnormal blood vessel growth, which could be a factor in worsening eyes.

Whatever changes you might make in your daily habits, those small changes could make a big difference in your eye health. Risking one more lame pun, I’d say the facts are clear for all to see.

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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

American Women in Science

Today's guest blogger, Alice Popejoy - a public policy fellow at the Association for Women in Science (AWIS), shares details of her experience on International Women's Day.

Around the world, International Women’s Day unites people by reflecting on their unique history in the continuing challenge of achieving gender equity. For women’s organizations in Washington, D.C. it is the busiest day of the year, as we come together to reflect, celebrate and collaborate.

At AWIS National*, we began the day with our President Dr. Joan Herbers at the State Department, where she moderated a bi-national webcast featuring EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, Assistant Secretary of State Kerri-Ann Jones, and esteemed scientists from Jakarta, Indonesia to highlight the role of strong science in policy making around the world and to encourage female participation. Before the event finished, I was cabbing it over to Rayburn House Office Building to attend Rep. Donna Edward’s event “Blast Off! Encouraging Our Brightest Stars to Enter and Stay in STEM Fields,” which highlighted the importance of our nation’s diverse talent to be reflected in STEM fields if we are to maintain global competitiveness in innovation.

International Women’s Day infused with excitement about STEM on the Hill is a peak of opportunity for my AWIS agenda, educating policy makers about the barriers to success for women in STEM fields, and advocating for institutional changes that will encourage the full participation of underrepresented groups in the workplace.

But our audience is not always so receptive. In America, we have laws like Title IX that protect women from overt discrimination so it is difficult for some policy makers to understand why there is a need for bills like Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson’s “Fulfilling the Potential of Women in Academic Science and Engineering” (H.R. 889) which promotes gender bias workshops and other policy recommendations. Although I have never experienced overt discrimination, as a young scientist, I have felt isolated, sexualized, and subtly written-off as less capable than my male classmates for being a woman. Thus, my agenda is personally, as well as professionally motivated.

While the legal status of gender discrimination has changed, the reality remains frighteningly similar to past decades. Women are still paid less, receive smaller grants, are provided fewer resources, and have less lab space on average compared to their male counterparts. Women also are less likely to become full and tenured professors, faculty department chairs, and to receive awards for their scholarly research than their male colleagues.

Given that 50% of America’s potential for innovation is female and only 24% of the STEM workforce are women, it is an unfortunate and foolish underutilization of our national resources. Raising awareness about gender bias, making the STEM workplace more family-responsive, and educating lawmakers are just a few of the solutions AWIS continues to promote.

For more information about AWIS and getting involved in advocating for the full participation of women and underrepresented groups in STEM fields, visit or follow AWIS on Twitter @AWISnational.

Alice Popejoy is a graduate of Hamilton College with a Bachelor’s degree in Biology and French.We thank her for taking the time to share her experience in science advocacy and wish her the best of luck as she strives to pursue her own PhD in the biological sciences.

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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

International Women's Day

Today's tuneage celebrates women. Women in every occupation from research to motherhood to business or farming.

Hillary Clinton's address on International Women's Day.

No less seriously, here's a James Bond look at awareness of women today.

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Monday, March 7, 2011

Life of a New Voice in the Peace Corps

New Voices Peace Corps Update
Alissa Ortman
2nd of March 2011

Where might you be if you see children walking goats instead of dogs, women carrying large containers of water or bundles of wood on their heads, and people wearing winter clothes whenever the temperature drops below 80? You might be in Mozambique serving in the Peace Corps!

Greetings New Voices! It's been awhile but I agreed to write an update on life as a Peace Corps Volunteer here in Mozambique to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Peace Corps this week!* I arrived in Southern Mozambique at the end of September and spent ten weeks in training. This involved living with a Mozambican family and picking up as much Portuguese (the national language here) as I could as well as learning about methods of teaching and participating in a model school program to practice giving lessons to Mozambican youth.

After finishing training and being sworn-in as an official Peace Corps Volunteer in early December I moved up North to the city of Angoche in the province of Nampula (see map). Here in Angoche, I have since started teaching English at the secondary school as well as a few secondary projects. Along with my roommate and the health volunteer also living in Angoche, we have a girl's empowerment group, a boy's art group, and together we help run the youth center started by a previous volunteer.

The boy's art group recently finished painting a mural on the main road into Angoche depicting the problems, causes, and solutions to both the issues of malaria and domestic violence. We spent quite a few weekends working all day in the blistering sun to finish painting the wall, but it was worth it. It was the talk of the town for weeks and people still stop to look at the images and discuss what they mean amongst each other.

Next week we are starting an advanced English class for twelfth grade students and after that gets going we are planning a nighttime adult English course as well. Between our courses at the center, teaching at the secondary school, and our boys and girls groups we are quite busy here in Angoche, but it has been an amazing experience as I'm sure it will continue to be for the remainder of my two years here in Mozambique.

So cheers to Peace Corps 50th anniversary, from one of it's current volunteers. Here's to another 50 years and more of people serving the world over in honor of peace and friendship!

*Unfortunately, the Internet is less reliable in Mozambique than the U.S., so Alissa got this message to us just this morning. We thank her for her extraordinary efforts and wish her the best of luck as she continues to serve as an ambassador of peace; sharing her knowledge about health, science, and, of course, the English language, with her students and community in Angoche.

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Friday, March 4, 2011

Coming Attractions: An Advocacy Survey

Photo Credit: jorge.correa on Flickr
It’s Friday, and you’re probably thinking about whether or not you want to see a movie this weekend. Well, how about two free movie tickets to help you out?

Complete the survey below and help Research!America improve its website and advocacy resources. Plus, if you provide your name and email at the end, you’ll be entered to win a pair of free movie tickets.

Only complete survey responses will be entered into the drawing. The survey closes March 18, with the winner announced soon after. Take about 10 minutes now and you could be seeing movies on us.

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Thursday, March 3, 2011

Come to the 2011 National Health Research Forum

The Research!America annual National Health Research Forum is an amazing opportunity to hear leaders of the health research community talk about the issues of today and tomorrow. Below is the full invitation and I definitely recommend anyone who can attending. (Bonus: you can meet some of your fellow New Voices in person!)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011
11:45 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Join Research!America for the 2011 National Health Research Forum on March 15! This annual event brings together heads of federal agencies for health and science research, as well as leaders from industry, academia and patient advocacy.

Lunch will be served at 11:45 a.m. and Research!America's chair, The Honorable John Edward Porter, will provide welcoming remarks beginning at 12:10 p.m. Michael Riley, managing editor of Bloomberg Government, and Clive Crook, senior editor of The Atlantic, will serve as moderators for two back-to-back panels with audience Q&A.

Confirmed panelists include:
  • John J. Castellani, president and CEO, PhRMA
  • The Hon. Mike Castle, member of U.S. Congress (1993-2011)
  • Carolyn M. Clancy, MD, director, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
  • Francis S. Collins, MD, PhD, director, National Institutes of Health
  • Victor Dzau, MD, chancellor of health affairs, Duke University
  • Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH, director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Margaret A. Hamburg, MD, commissioner, Food and Drug Administration
  • Harry Johns, MBA, president & CEO, Alzheimer\'s Association
  • David C. Page, MD, director, Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research
  • Ellen V. Sigal, PhD, founder and president, Friends of Cancer Research
  • Elias Zerhouni, MD, president, global research and development, sanofi-aventis

Learn more about the National Health Research Forum, and register online today. Admission for Research!America members is complementary.

Research!America thanks our sponsors: sanofi-aventis; Pfizer, Inc; PhRMA; Howard Hughes Medical Institute; Battelle; Infocast; Zogby International; and Health Affairs.

For information other than sponsorship opportunities, contact Michelle Hernandez at mhernandez at

Make sure to leave us a comment and let us know you're coming!

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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Meet Amit Mistry, AAAS Science and Technology Fellow at USAID

Amit is a former Science Policy Fellow for Research!America and was kind enough to tell us via email about his current work.

New Voices (NV): What do you do, and why is it important?

Amit: I am a AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). I am working on the development and implementation of a strategy to combat global hunger and food security. Part of my job involves communicating technical information to non-technical audiences, keeping them informed and engaged in our activities. Another part of my job is connecting research programs to country programs that may benefit from the research. More broadly, my work supports a coordinated effort across the U.S. government to sustainably reduce global poverty and hunger.

NV: What’s the most exciting part of what you do? Any particularly interesting stories?

Amit: The most exciting part of my job is getting to see the impact of our agency’s work through the real people who are impacted by it. In September 2010, I traveled to Uganda for a few weeks and provided the local government feedback on its plan to strengthen the agriculture sector and reduce hunger. I met inspirational government leaders, researchers, and farmers who all shared the goal of lifting millions of Ugandans out of poverty.

NV: What is the biggest policy issue affecting your work? Describe how you’ve dealt with it, or even advocated regarding that issue.

Amit: One of the important challenges I face is working across multiple sectors, such as food security and climate change. These two sectors are closely linked and should be addressed comprehensively for the greatest impact. At USAID, I helped create a Strategic Integration Working Group, which brings together various sectors so they can share best practices. The group has developed recommendations for USAID that can improve our work across multiple sectors.

NV: How might the public misinterpret your work? Is there anything you want to clear up?

Amit: There is a misconception that U.S. investments abroad don’t have an impact on Americans. In fact, investments in foreign assistance have a far-reaching impact that affects our own economic security and national security. Our investments in foreign assistance build allies, strengthen trade partnerships, and create opportunities for American innovators and entrepreneurs.

NV: What’s your advice for someone in science who wants to get involved in policy, advocacy or outreach?

Amit: My advice for someone interested in science policy is to strengthen your communication skills and practice communicating with different audiences, and for different purposes. Good communication skills are an incredible asset in science policy and will make you a more effective advocate or policy-maker. Also, I recommend learning the federal budgeting process because it is extremely helpful to understand, no matter where you work in the science policy world. Finally, I would encourage you to always promote the use of science-based decision-making in the policy area.

This is part of the ongoing Profiling New Voices series.

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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

This Magic Moment

Hat tip to New Voice Jaime Vernon who linked to this on American Scico.

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