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:
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.
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.
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.
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.