November 2011

Members make case for science on Capitol Hill

The 2011 American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology fall Hill Day hosted nine investigators who live or work in the districts of representatives from the U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, which allocates funding for the National Institutes of Health. The invited researchers, along with eight members of the Public Affairs Advisory Committee, met with more than 40 congressional offices to advocate for biomedical research.

Gerald Shadel  
Yale University School of Medicine 
HIll_day_ShadelGerald Shadel’s research focuses on mechanisms that govern expression and maintenance of mitochondrial DNA, the requisite signaling pathways involved in regulating these processes, and how associated defects are involved in human disease and aging.



Malcolm Snead 
University of Southern California 
Hill_day_SneadMalcolm Snead studies the control of biomineralization using structural biology approaches and interventional changes in gene structure via modifying the mouse genome.



Mark Quinn 
Montana State University 
Hill_day_QuinnMark Quinn’s research is focused on understanding microbicidal mechanisms utilized by innate immune cells in defense of the host against pathogens, specifically investigating the molecular and biochemical basis of phagocyte oxygen radical production as well as the role of phagocyte-generated oxidants in the tissue damage associated with inflammatory diseases in humans and livestock.


Kathleen Collins 
University of California, Berkeley 
Hill_day_CollinsKathleen Collins studies functional complexes of RNA and proteins to understand their distinct assembly requirements and their innovations of activity. Much of the lab effort is focused on telomerase, an enzyme required for chromosome end maintenance and implicated in human disease.



Wayne Frasch 
Arizona State University 
HIll_day_FraschWayne Frasch studies ATP synthetase, the enzyme required by virtually every living organism to catalyze the conversion of energy from food or light into ATP.




Laszlo Prokai 
University of North Texas Health Science Center 
Hill_day_ProkaiLaszlo Prokai uses mass spectrometry to identify novel proteins associated with aging and neurodegeneration. His broad interests are biological phenomena that can be explained with, elucidated through and made useful by the principles of chemistry.



Bernard Roizman 
University of Chicago 
Hill_day_RoizmmanBernard Roizman studies the mechanism through which the herpes virus infects a cell.





Xian Luo  
Loma Linda University 
Hill_day_LuoXian Luo’s focus is on cellular and molecular mechanisms of radiotherapy-induced normal tissue reactions.




Michal Laniado-Schwartzman  
New York Medical College 
Hill_day_SchwartzmanMichal Laniado-Schwartzman’s research consists of two projects focused on the role of lipid autacoids, more specifically, cytochrome-P450-derived eicosanoids, in the regulation of inflammation and vascular function in the areas of the cardiovascular system and vision. 



PAAC members who attended 

Richard Eckert
University of Maryland 

Mark Lively
Wake Forest University 

Bettie Sue Masters
University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio 

Lee Gehrke
Harvard University/Massachusetts Institute of Technology 

John Kyriakis
Tufts Medical Center 

William Merrick
Case Western University 

Ronald Bach
Minneapolis VA Medical Center 



“I had an amazing day visiting with my congressional representatives … I was amazed at the process and how willing every office was to listen to our comments about the importance of biomedical research and NIH funding.  I was pleased to hear the support for NIH that was evident across the many offices we visited, regardless of political party.”
-Mark Quinn,
 Montana State University 

“I must say that this visit exceeded my expectations in terms of what I learned and what we achieved … We were welcomed and received the highest respect concerning the issues we raised. I truly believe that this forum is well worth our time and effort and appreciated the bipartisan positive feedback regarding the NIH budget. Also, I felt that from both sides of the aisle there was a great appreciation for biomedical research and understanding that support for NIH is conducive to economic growth and job creation.”
-Michal Laniado-Schwartzman,
 New York Medical College  

“I learned that constituent voices do get heard, but only if we ask to be heard.”
-Kathleen Collins,  
 University of California, Berkeley  

“Two important aspects of these exchanges … were 1) the opportunity to clarify the difference between basic and translational research and the critical need to fund both going forward and 2) their recognition of the enormous social and economic impact of funding science in the U.S. and insight into additional measures that could provide more bang for the taxpayer scientific buck, such as lowering the regulatory burden on scientists. 
-Gerald Shadel 
 Yale University School of Medicine  

“The fascinating experience … made me realize that, as scientists, we must all speak out and reach out to politicians, who would actually later recollect what we shared with them when House of Representatives or Senate appropriations are examined. Believe it or not, our real-life stories are important for making progress with discovery in scientific research, especially when NIH funding is being cut…. And if we do not express the need for such fiscal support and the importance of those considerations repeatedly, politicians may not realize and prioritize these needs.”
-Xian Luo 
 Loma Linda University  

"The Hill Day was a great experience that gave me the opportunity to convey to lawmakers our society’s message with my personalized touch and ask for their support of biomedical research and related matters important to the scientists in our country."
-Laszlo Prokai 
 University of North Texas Health Science Center 

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