e-Public Policy Update – May 2016

Contents:

  • ASM Letters on Zika and Emerging Infectious Disease Funding
  • ASM on Capitol Hill
  • BMBL Revision
  • Revisions to Fair Labor Standards Act
  • ASM Endorses Letter on Antimicrobial Funding
  • ASM Endorses Letter on Preparedness Funding
  • ASM Recommendations to Congress for Research Funding
  • ASM Comments on Laboratory Developed Tests
  • ASM Attends CHF Meeting with Senate Staffers
  • New Website on Select Agent Updates
  • ASM Members Participate in Lab PTAC Meeting
  • ASM Attends March PACCARB Meeting
  • ASM Attends ACS Science & the Congress Project Briefing
  • Minority Microbiology Mentor Newsletter

ASM Letters on Zika and Emerging Infectious Disease Funding
The ASM sent letters to Congress urging them to pass the Administration’s request of $1.9 billion for emergency supplemental funding to intensify mobilization of public health and scientific initiatives against the Zika virus.  The ASM supports new funding to fight public health emergencies and sent a letter on February 23 to Congress when the Administration proposed emergency supplemental funding to address Zika.  An April letter was sent in response to the Administration’s action to divert funding from efforts to protect against Ebola and other emerging infectious diseases because Congress had not yet approved the supplemental request.  On May 18 the ASM sent another letter urging passage of the funding after the House proposed only $622 million in the House Appropriations Committee’s Zika Appropriations Response Act.  The letters are available on the Public Affairs web page at: http://www.asm.org/index.php/publicpolicy-2/statements-testimony/137-policy/documents/statements-and-testimony/94026-s-t-2016.  A summary of ASM’s efforts to combat the Zika virus is available at:  http://www.asm.org/index.php/public-policy/93-policy/94194-asm-acts-to-counter-zika-virus-outbreak.

ASM on Capitol Hill
On April 26, Kathleen Alexander D.V.M., Ph.D., member of the PSAB Committee on Agricultural and Food Microbiology represented ASM at the 22nd Annual Coalition for National Science Funding (CNSF) Capitol Hill Exhibition & Reception.  Dr. Alexander presented a poster titled: “Linkages between Multidrug Resistance, Environmental Change and Human Health in Africa: Looking beyond the Usual Suspects” and discussed her research recently published in mBio on Mycobacterium mungi, an emerging TB pathogen found in banded mongoose. Dr. Alexander also met with staff in the offices of Senator Mark Warner (D-VA); Representative H. Morgan Griffith (R-VA-09); Representative Louise Slaughter (D-NY-25); and Representative Harold Rogers (R-KY-05), Chair of the House Appropriations committee, to discuss her research and the importance of federal funding for the National Science Foundation (NSF.)

The CNSF is comprised of more than 140 professional organizations, scientific societies, universities and businesses whose common mission is to “support the goal of increasing the national investment in the National Science Foundation's research and education programs in response to the unprecedented scientific, technological and economic opportunities facing the United States.” The Annual Capitol Hill Exhibition & Reception showcases the importance and range of programs and research supported by the NSF to members of Congress and their staff. 

On May 12, members of the ASM Public and Scientific Affairs Board (PSAB) traveled to Capitol Hill, met with Congressional leaders and staff, discussed FY 2017 appropriations and advocated for passage of the administrations $1.8billion supplemental funding request to address the Zika outbreak.  Ron Atlas, Chair of the Public and Scientific Affairs Board; James Roth, Chair of the PSAB Committee on Agricultural and Food Microbiology; Chuck Rice, Chair of the PSAB Committee on Environmental Microbiology; and Jay Grimes, former chair of the PSAB Committee on Environmental Microbiology met with Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS) Chair of the Senate Committee on Appropriations; and staff in the offices of Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS), Chair of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations subcommittee; and Representative Harold Rogers (R-KY-5), Chair of the House Appropriations Committee.  The meetings focused on the importance of adequate federal funding to combat the current Zika outbreak and prepare for other emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases.  Also discussed was antimicrobial resistance, funding for agencies of importance to microbiology, specifically the Department of Agriculture’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) and microbiology broadly.  To see photos from the ASM visits go to:  http://www.asm.org/index.php/public-policy/93-policy/94228-hillvisits-6-16.

BMBL Revision
The Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories (BMBL) is being revised this year by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  The BMBL is the cornerstone of biosafety in laboratories in the United States and in many countries around the world.  The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine is assisting with the revision and hosted a meeting in May regarding the modifications and revisions suggested during a virtual town hall that was set up in April.  ASM sent a notice out to members soliciting stakeholder input for the BMBL revision.  To read the notice and to keep up to date on the revision process go to:  http://www.asm.org/index.php/public-policy/93-policy/94131-bmbl-4-16.  The National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine solicited stakeholder input for a revision of “Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories (BMBL)” beginning April 4 and leading up to a virtual town hall on May 12.  Since its initial publication in 1984, the BMBL has become the cornerstone of the practice of biosafety in the United States and in many countries around the world but this resource has not been revised since 2009.  ASM was represented at the virtual town hall by Michael Pentella, member of the PSAB Committee on Laboratory Practices, and a bulk email was sent to ASM members to solicit input on this valuable resource. To view the public comments submitted, go to http://nas-sites.org/bmbl/  and click the “Virtual Town Hall” tab.

Revisions to Fair Labor Standards Act
The Department of Labor is finalizing the rule to change worker overtime.  The final rule will become effective on December 1, 2016 and the salary overtime threshold will be $47,476.  Mike Lauer, the National Institutes of Health’s Deputy Director for Extramural Research, posted a blog about the new rule, “How New US Overtime Provisions Will Affect Postdoctoral Researchers.”  To read the blog go to:  https://nexus.od.nih.gov/all/2016/05/18/nih-flsa-2016/.

ASM Endorses Letter on Antimicrobial Funding
The ASM signed onto a letter asking Congress to support increased funding for antimicrobial resistance programs in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 appropriations process.  The funding would provide resources necessary to implement the National Action Plan for Combating Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria (Action Plan). The Action Plan provides a necessary, comprehensive and well-coordinated federal response to antimicrobial resistance. The letter was signed by 48 other organizations and is available on line at:  http://www.asm.org/images/PSAB/FY17LHHS_Funding_Stakeholder_Sign-on_LetterHouse.pdf

ASM Endorses Letter on Preparedness Funding
The ASM signed onto a letter urging Congress to support funding for programs critical to the nation’s preparedness against emerging infectious disease threats.  The ASM signed on to the letter as a member of the Informal Coalition on Biodefense and Public Health Preparedness.  The letter supports increased funding for programs critical to the nation’s preparedness against threats both naturally occurring, like Ebola and pandemic influenza, and deliberate, such as a chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear (CBRN) attack.  To read the letter go to:  http://www.asm.org/images/PSAB/InformalCoalitionFY-2017.pdf.

ASM Recommendations to Congress for Research Funding
ASM has sent Congress funding recommendations that support increases for research and public health programs supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), National Science Foundation (NSF), Department of Agriculture (USDA), Department of Energy (DOE) and the Department of Defense (DOD).  See the document at: http://www.asm.org/images/PSAB/FedFunding-FY2017.pdf

ASM Comments on Laboratory Developed Tests
On April 27, ASM joined the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) and the Pan American Society for Clinical Virology (PASCV) in authoring a letter to U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Califf detailing joint concerns about the FDA regulation of infectious disease laboratory developed tests (LDTs). Specifically, infectious disease LDTs have a long history of safe and effective use, and the three societies believe the risks posed by these LDTs are far outweighed by their advances and benefits to patient care.  To read the letter in its entirety, please go to http://www.asm.org/images/PSAB/ASM-IDSA-PASCV-LDT.pdf.  

ASM Attends CHF Meeting with Senate Staffers
On May 13, ASM joined other member organizations of the Coalition for Health Funding (CHF) in a meeting with a bipartisan group of Congressional staffers, including Senate Appropriations Staff Directors Charles Kieffer and Bruce Evans.  This meeting focused on the appropriations process for the remainder of the year, long term planning for public health emergencies, and included an extended question and answer period.  To read more about the CHF’s history and mission, go to http://www.publichealthfunding.org/.

New Website on Select Agent Updates
The CDC has created a web page (http://www.cdc.gov/phpr/dsat/review_progress.htm) to update constituents on CDC efforts to increase biosafety and security practices.  Background on three federal reviews held in October 2015 and program improvement initiatives are included, focusing on the inspection process, customer service, incident response, transparency and public engagement. 

ASM Members Participate in Lab PTAC Meeting
On April 12, PSAB Laboratory Practice Committee members Stephen Cavalieri and Eileen Burd participated in The Joint Commission’s Laboratory Professional and Technical Advisory Committee (Lab PTAC) standards development conference call.  PTAC representatives and alternates assist The Joint Commission in the development and refinement of clinical standards and elements of performance by representing the views of a diverse group of professional associations and by providing expert advice.  To see all the organizations that populate the Lab PTAC, go to http://www.jointcommission.org/accreditation/laboratory_ptac.aspx

ASM Attends March PACCARB Meeting
ASM staff attended the second meeting of the President’s Advisory Council on Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria (PACCARB) on March 30-31.  This public meeting was dedicated to presentations by the five active PACCARB working groups: Antibiotic Stewardship; One Health Surveillance; Diagnostic Innovations; Treatment, Prevention and Control Research and Development; and International Collaboration on Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria (CARB).  The Council was also tasked with offering recommendations on two broad questions from the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS).  You can read all the materials and view the archived webcast by going to http://www.hhs.gov/ash/carb/march3031meeting.  

ASM Attends ACS Science & the Congress Project Briefing
On March 24, ASM staff attended the American Chemical Society (ACS) Science & the Congress Project briefing “Identifying and Containing Outbreaks” held in the Rayburn House Office Building.  Timothy Lant, Director of the Division of Analytic Decision Support, Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), participated in the briefing and took questions from the attendees.  The ACS conducts these briefings to provide opportunities for Members of Congress and staff and the wider science policy community to be informed about the science involved in key public policy issues.  To see clips from the briefing, go to https://vimeo.com/album/3876850.

Minority Microbiology Mentor Newsletter
The May issue of the Minority Microbiology Mentor Newsletter has been published by the Committee on Microbiological Issues Impacting Minorities. To read the newsletter, go to: http://www.asm.org/index.php/publicpolicy-2/newsletters/minority-microbiology-newsletter/135-policy/documents/newsletters/minority-microbiology-mentor-newsletter/94204-mmm-5-16

 

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