Hope and concern

Published January 05 2017

Happy New Year! We enter 2017 with a sense of hope and optimism, tinted with a deep sense of concern and realism about the challenging environment we have ahead of us. The 115th Congress will be seated this month, and Donald Trump will be sworn in as the 45th president of the United States. The new Congress and administration will come with a new political agenda that will influence the direction of the American scientific enterprise.

There is political uncertainty in the weeks and months ahead, but the commitment of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Public Affairs Advisory Committee to represent the needs of our community to policymakers remains unchanged. We enter 2017 with a clear message: The nation benefits from investments in the biomedical research enterprise. The work that our members do plays a critical role in ensuring that America is the global leader in biomedical innovation.

We are excited about the plans we have for the upcoming year. We will start 2017 by preparing a report to share with the new Congress and president that outlines the core pillars of our policy agenda. In our report, we will explain how investing in biomedical research strengthens the economy, creates jobs and helps to reduce the burden of disease through improved treatments and cures for millions of Americans. We will be advocating for increases in funding at federal agencies that support our mission and promoting policies that ensure a fertile environment for biomedical research. To do so effectively, we will start the year with an initiative to educate the newly elected members of government on what fundamental biomedical researchers do and how they, as our elected officials, can help us.

Beyond legislative actions, we remain committed to developing a sustainable biomedical research enterprise, an effort we have been leading for more than two years. Next month, we’ll have a discussion about the accomplishments we’ve made in working with stakeholders and following up on the recommendations that came out of the workshop we hosted last February on building a sustainable research enterprise. In 2016, we planted the seeds for workforce analysis, new tools to help us advocate for sustained funding, and a platform to meet the needs of postdoctoral scholars; in 2017, we are ready to reap what we have sowed.

Additionally, we’ll be calling on you. In addition to our annual Hill Day event of visiting the U.S. Congress and the August advocacy push, we’ll have more opportunities for you to be involved in advocating for your science. We will be launching a new “letter to the editor” campaign this spring and are working with our colleagues in the Public Outreach Committee to develop an online course to teach you how to communicate with policymakers effectively.

This year’s political environment will not be without challenges. But with your support and involvement, we can rise to the occasion and work toward a bright future for science.

Benjamin Corb Benjamin Corb is director of public affairs at ASBMB.