Urging our Senators to Support NIH Funding: Does it Work?

Last night, before leaving lab I received this email:

Urge Your Senators to Support for $32 Billion for NIH in FY 2013

Dear Colleague,
 
The Senate Appropriations Committees will soon consider the Labor, Health and Human Services (LHHS) bill that will provide fiscal year (FY) 2013 funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH). FASEB is urging Congress to increase the NIH budget to $32 billion in FY 2013 as the first step of a program of sustained growth that will keep pace with the increasing scientific opportunities, continue our progress in improved heath, and foster economic competitiveness. We need your help to ensure that your Senators hear from the research community about why it is important to provide $32 billion for NIH in 2013!
 
Please go to http://capwiz.com/faseb/issues/alert/?alertid=61436886 to email your Senators today to urge them to support $32 billion for NIH in the FY 2013 LHHS Appropriations bill. Together, we can make a difference for science!
 
Sincerely,
 
Joseph C. LaManna, PhD
FASEB President

Normally, I fill these out without question, but after clicking the link I wondered whether I was just preaching to the choir. Being from RI, I know that funding the NIH and research in general has the support of my representatives and senators. In a few days I’m sure that I will receive a canned response from Sen. Reed and Sen. Whitehouse pledging their support.

So how effective is it? Has letter writing ever changed the minds of senators who oppose research funding increases? Or do they just picture this when they receive these emails:

Has anyone ever received a reply from a senator expressing why they oppose research funding or why they’ve changed their minds and now support it? If so, I’d love to hear your story. Better yet, if you responses from your senator please share and I’ll attach it to this post.

UPDATE 6.15.12

As anticipated, Senator Reed has responded with a letter expressing his support for NIH Funding: (bold mine)

 
Dear Mr. Le:
 
     Thank you for contacting me regarding federal support for medical research.  I appreciate hearing from you.
 
     To further our understanding of diseases and conditions and improve our nation’s health, I have consistently supported the work of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which is the leading federal agency for medical research in the United States, as well as public health programs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  Scientific research, coupled with greater public education and awareness, has produced significant results with respect to disease rates in this country.
 
     The Consolidated Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year (FY) 2012, which I supported and was signed into law on December 23, 2011, provides over $30 billion to the NIH and $6 billion to the CDC.  You may be interested to learn that I recently joined a number of my colleagues in sending a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee in support of biomedical research funding for the NIH in FY13.  For your review, I have enclosed a copy of this letter.
 
     It is my hope that strong federal support for medical research will continue to advance our knowledge of diseases, genetic disorders, and chronic conditions.  You can be assured that I will keep your thoughts in mind as I continue to support robust federal investment in medical research.
 
     Again, thank you for contacting me, and please do not hesitate to write, call, or visit my website, www.reed.senate.gov, in the future for information regarding this or any other matter.
 
Sincerely,
 
Jack Reed
United States Senator
 

Here’s a copy of the letter to the Approriations Committee: FY13 NIH support

I think the statement, “As NIH grants get more competitive, researchers can easily spend half their careers working before receiving a grant, resulting in promising, talented young researchers being discouraged from biomedical research and some young investigators deciding to abandon scientific research altogether or to conduct their research outside the United States,” will resonate with most of my peers.

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3 responses to “Urging our Senators to Support NIH Funding: Does it Work?

  1. I always send in these letters, and add a bit of state-specific info to them to make them more relevant to my representatives and state. I also always get a form-letter response, although this last time, a couple of days after I sent the letter, one of my representatives published a letter in one of the local newspapers expressing his support for NIH and essentially saying the republicans are holding everything hostage at this point.

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