- White House Releases New Memorandum on Biosafety and Biosecurity Measures
- Budget Agreement Passes in Congress
- ASM Meets with Officials from USAID
- ASM Comments on Point-of-Care Diagnostic Test Challenge
- ASM Posts Updates to Sentinel Laboratory Guidelines
- ASM Congressional Science Fellow Secures Congressional Office Position
- ASM Attends Inaugural Presidential Advisory Council Meeting
- ASM Endorses Earth Science Week Resolution
- ASM Member Appointed to Coalition Science Advisory Committee
- ASM Attends Town Hall Meeting on Research Advocacy
- A National Blueprint for Biodefense: Leadership and Major Reforms Needed to Optimize Efforts
- Minority Microbiology Mentor Newsletter
White House Releases New Memorandum on Biosafety and Biosecurity Measures
On October 29, 2015, the White House released a memorandum from Assistants to the President John Holdren and Lisa Monaco on the next steps to enhance biosafety and biosecurity in the United States. The memo highlights the conduct of parallel federal and broad stakeholder reviews to generate specific recommendations to strengthen the U.S. government's biosafety and biosecurity practices and oversight system. Federal departments and agencies have now developed the implementation plans and timelines to address these recommendations. The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) also published a supporting blog post to further emphasize the importance of the recommendations and the work being done by departments and agencies to enhance national biosafety and biosecurity. The October 2015 memorandum addresses implementation of actions to enhance biosafety and biosecurity as described in the August 18, 2104 memorandum from the Assistants to the President John Holdren and Lisa Monaco to federal departments and agencies. To read the memorandum and other related documents go to: http://www.asm.org/index.php/component/content/article/93-policy/93841-wh-bs-10-15.
Budget Agreement Passes in Congress
Congress has passed a budget and debt ceiling agreement, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015. The legislation increases discretionary spending by $80 billion over two fiscal years, providing some relief from sequestration for FY 2016 and 2017; the increased allocations would be spread equally between nondefense and defense programs. The appropriations committees will begin to allocate additional funds to their subcommittees, which will have the opportunity to make adjustments to committee passed bills. It is still not known whether individual appropriations bills or an omnibus appropriations bill for FY 2016 will be completed by December 11, when the current Continuing Resolution expires. Senate appropriators recommended a $2 billion increase for the NIH earlier this year. Science agencies may also receive better increases, but this remains to be seen in the final appropriations legislation.
ASM Meets with Officials from USAID
Dr. Ronald Atlas, chair of the Public and Scientific Affairs Board and Dr. Jason Rao, Director of the International Affairs Department met with officials from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), to discuss global programs in infectious disease areas of interest to ASM programs. They met with Elizabeth Fox, Director, Office of Health, Infectious Diseases and Nutrition (HIDN), Irene Koek; Director of Infectious Disease Division, Larry Barat, Meera Venkatesan , Kimberly Connolly, who work on the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI), Cheri Vincent, Director and Amy Bloom, Senior Policy Advisor of the TB Initiative and Dennis Carroll, Director of Emerging Pandemic Threat Program and Global Health Security and Development (GHSD). The USAID’s mission is to end extreme poverty and to promote resilient, democratic societies while advancing US security and prosperity.
ASM Comments on Point-of-Care Diagnostic Test Challenge
Members of the PSAB Laboratory Practices and Professional Affairs committees offered comments on the Antimicrobial Resistance Rapid, Point-of-Care Diagnostic Test Challenge, as announced in the September 9 Federal Register. These comments focused on criteria for new tests to be developed in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ prize competition, in which up to $20 million will be made available for one or more successful rapid point-of-care diagnostics. The diagnostics produced from the challenge are expected to identify bacterial infections as well as antibacterial resistance. To see the criteria, please go to http://www.asm.org/index.php/public-policy-2/137-policy/documents/statements-and-testimony/93812-ar-diag-10-15.
ASM Posts Updates to Sentinel Laboratory Guidelines
The Sentinel Level Clinical Laboratory Protocols for Suspected Biological Threat Agents and Emerging Infectious Diseases have been updated. As of September 2015, each of the bacterial protocols has a new procedure on preparation of samples in laboratories using MALDI-TOF for bacterial identification. A new protocol for the identification of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) has also been prepared for use in Sentinel Laboratories. These protocols are a collaborative effort between ASM and the Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL). To see the collection of protocols, go to http://www.asm.org/index.php/issues/sentinel-laboratory-guidelines.
ASM Congressional Science Fellow Secures Congressional Office Position
David Visi, Ph.D., ASM’s 2015-2016 Congressional Science Fellow has found a placement in the office of Representative Louise Slaughter (D-NY). Visi will be working on antibiotics in agriculture, genetics and public health issues. The American Society for Microbiology has supported Congressional Fellows since 1977. The ASM Congressional Science Fellowship Selection Committee selects a postdoctoral to mid-career microbiologist to spend one year on the staff of an individual congressman, congressional committee, or with some other appropriate organizational unit of Congress. Prospective Fellows must be citizens of the United States, members of ASM for at least one year and must have completed their Ph.D. by the time the fellowship begins in September. The Congressional Science Fellowship is supported in part by the Frobisher Fund, a bequest made to ASM by Martin Frobisher. Contact the Office of Public Affairs at email@example.com for more information on the ASM fellowship or go to the ASM web page for a program description: http://asm.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=7535. The deadline for applications for the 2016 – 2017 fellowship is February 19, 2016.
ASM Attends Inaugural Presidential Advisory Council Meeting
ASM staff attended the September 29 inaugural meeting of the Presidential Advisory Council on Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria (CARB). In March 2015, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) established the Advisory Council, tasked with providing advice, information, and recommendations to the HHS Secretary regarding programs and policies intended to support the implementation of Executive Order 13676, “Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria.” The CARB Advisory Council is expected to meet in March, June, and September 2016 to advance work on the five goals of the National Action Plan for Combatting Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria. To see all the materials from the inaugural meeting, please go to http://www.hhs.gov/ash/carb/meetings/pastmeetings/index.html.
ASM Endorses Earth Science Week Resolution
The ASM endorsed the Earth Science Week resolution introduced by Representative Mike Honda (D-CA) in October. The resolution, which would designate the week of October 11, 2015, through October 17, 2015 as Earth Science Week, would help the public gain a better understanding and appreciation for the earth sciences and encourages the stewardship of the Earth. The ASM joined over 50 science and professional societies, organizations, coalitions and companies in endorsing the resolution. To read a press release with more information on the resolution go to: https://honda.house.gov/news/press-releases/honda-recognizes-the-importance-of-earth-science.
ASM Member Appointed to Coalition Science Advisory Committee
Dr. Charles Rice, Chair of the Public and Scientific Affairs Board Committee on Agricultural Research has been appointed as a member of the Science Advisory Committee of the Supporters of Agricultural Research (SoAR) Coalition. The advisory committee will provide critical guidance in how to both strengthen and raise the profile of agricultural research particularly related to the USDA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI). The goals of the committee include identifying additional opportunities for collaboration and cross-disciplinary work between agricultural research programs and other federally funded science programs and providing advice and recommendations for advancing agricultural research as a whole. The ASM is a founding member of the SoAR coalition. For more information on SoAR go to: http://supportagresearch.org/.
ASM Attends Town Hall Meeting on Research Advocacy
Public Affairs staff attended a Town Hall meeting held by the Ad Hoc Group for Medical Research. The town hall focused on current advocacy activities and future plans for collaborations between coalition members. Updates were provided from organizations ACT for NIH and Research!America. The Ad Hoc Group for Medical Research is a coalition of patient and voluntary health groups, medical and scientific societies, academic and research organizations and industry that support enhancing the federal investment in the biomedical, behavioral and population based research conducted and supported by the NIH.
A National Blueprint for Biodefense: Leadership and Major Reforms Needed to Optimize Efforts
The Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense released its report: A National Blueprint for Biodefense: Leadership and Major Reforms Needed to Optimize Efforts. The report highlights the need for leadership to elevate coordination for intergovernmental and multidisciplinary efforts, collaboration between federal government and partners, and innovation. To read the report, go to: http://www.biodefensestudy.org/.
Minority Microbiology Mentor Newsletter
The October issue of the Minority Microbiology Newsletter has been published by the Committee on Microbiological Issues Impacting Minorities (CMIIM). You can read the newsletter by going to this link: https://www.asm.org/index.php/publicpolicy-2/newsletters/minority-microbiology-newsletter/135-policy/documents/newsletters/minority-microbiology-mentor-newsletter/93817-mmm-10-15.