Washington is listening —

and we’ve got a story to tell

Published August 01 2017

Politics in 2017 has become a full-contact sport. Whether it’s the debate surrounding the future of health care, an ever-evolving policy on immigration or a never-ending stream of analyses related to the 2016 election, there is no lack of story lines spurring partisan political activities and filling the voicemails and email inboxes of policymakers. As the summer churns on and we reach the August recess, when members of Congress leave Washington to spend time in their home districts, opportunities emerge to talk about the issues important to you and to make a difference for your colleagues.

Every year for the past four years, the Public Affairs Advisory Committee has encouraged American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology members to reach out to their elected officials during the August recess and meet with policymakers to talk about the importance of federal support for biomedical research. While the public affairs staff in our Rockville, Md., office meets with lawmakers and their staffs regularly, building personal connections at the local level is a critical part of successful advocacy. We are continuing this annual advocacy opportunity — and we need your help.

This year, we are looking for ASBMB members who are interested in talking to lawmakers about the exciting, lifesaving research that’s happening in their own backyards. We want our members to tell the story of the promise and potential biomedical research offers, to highlight the number of people employed in this field, and to show how scientists put taxpayers’ dollars to work in the laboratory setting.

After seven months of blistering political news, contentious town halls and an ever-changing Washington narrative, policymakers are looking for the good stories, the local activities that are making a difference for Americans from coast to coast. They are eager for opportunities to talk about what’s working rather than what’s broken.

In the past year, we’ve seen the National Institutes of Health’s budget grow even in the face of requests from the White House to cut it. We’ve seen a bipartisan commitment from Congress to support the nation’s biomedical research enterprise, and we want to take the opportunity to keep growing and building support. Getting involved is as easy as ever.

The public affairs staff has developed training modules to help you with messaging and help you talk about your science and explain its importance to policymakers. We are ready to work with you to schedule meetings, provide you with briefing materials and connect you with other local scientists who have experience in these efforts to collaborate and share ideas on how to make your story heard. Simply sign up by visiting asbmb.org/advocacy/grassrootsnetwork.

This summer, with political angst at a pretty high level, let’s remind our policymakers that there are stories at home worth bringing back to Washington — and let’s make sure these stories are fresh in their heads as they come back and set funding levels for next year.


Benjamin Corb Benjamin Corb is director of public affairs at ASBMB. Follow him on Twitter.