The Zika ThreatASM Acts to Counter Zika Virus Outbreak.
Summary of the President’s FY 2013 Budget Request
On February 13, the President released the Administration’s FY 2013 budget request to Congress. Highlights of research and development and public health funding proposed for federal agencies include:
National Institutes of Health (NIH)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Research
National Science Foundation (NSF)
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Research
Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Health Affairs
Additional information on the FY 2013 budget can be found on the public policy website at: Research and Development Funding for FY 2013
ASM Meets with Congressional Staff to Support Basic Research at USDA
In February, the ASM, as a member of the AFRI Coalition, met with Congressional staff to discuss funding for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), the USDA’s competitive grants program, housed within the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA.) Coalition members met with majority and minority staff from the House and Senate agriculture committees and agriculture appropriations subcommittees. Discussed was the importance of basic research and competitive grants funding as well as some discussion about authorizing AFRI at an appropriate level in the upcoming 2012 Farm Bill. AFRI is currently authorized at $700 million and in FY 2012 was funded at $264 million.
Public and Scientific Affairs Board Meeting
The ASM Public and Scientific Affairs Board (PSAB) held its annual board meeting at ASM Headquarters on February 9 and 10. The following policymakers attended and participated in the meeting:
Anthony Fauci, M.D., Director, National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, NIH, presented information about microbiology programs at NIAID including antimicrobial research, influenza and H5N1 research issues. He also discussed the federal budget implications for NIH and NIAID and management options that are being considered.
Sally J. Rockey, Ph.D., Deputy Director for Extramural Research, NIH, discussed the NIH working group formed to study the future of the biomedical research workforce. The working group has collected and analyzed data, including high percentages of biomedical Ph.Ds. continuing to work in their chosen fields, and a significantly shorter time spent in postdoctoral fellowship than in the 1990s. The working group has found less than 30% of NIH grants being awarded to women, and a dearth of racial and ethnic minorities in the NIH funded workforce. A report is expected in June. Dr, Rockey also discussed some potential issues affecting indirect costs and financial management in an austere budget time.
Rima Khabbaz, M.D., Deputy Director for Infectious Disease, CDC, discussed the CDC’s infectious disease framework by highlighting the three overarching fundamentals: to strengthen public health fundamentals, identify and implement high impact public health interventions, and to develop and advance policies to prevent, detect, and control infectious diseases. The CDC’s Board of Scientific Counselors has designed two new working groups, one on antimicrobial resistance and one on food safety, to assist in these goals.
John C. Wingfield, Ph.D., Assistant Director, Directorate for Biological Sciences, NSF, presented the five grand challenges facing research at the intersection of the physical and life sciences at NSF. From these five: Synthesizing Life-Like Systems; Genomes to Phenomes; The Brain: NeuroSystems; Earth, Climate, and Biosphere; Biological Diversity, Dr. Wingfield described the essential role for microbiology research. NSF has funded at least $110 million in microbial projects in the past two years and development of the bioeconomy, the need for data management, and the transformation of STEM education in the future indicate that there will be continued microbiology opportunities within NSF’s BIO Directorate.
Amy P. Patterson, M.D., Director, Office of Science Policy, Office of the Director, NIH, discussed recent actions of the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) and meetings concerning avian Influenza transmissibility research. She reviewed biosecurity issues and developments related to dual use research of concern (DURC) guidance and policy discussions related to restricted information and research publication.
Michael V. Callahan, Ph.D., Program Manager, Defense Sciences Office, DARPA, DOD, discussed the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). His presentation highlighted some of DARPA’s roles in biological threat defense research; some of these include the prediction of natural pathogen evolution, preclinical diagnosis of disease, and the accelerated manufacture of vaccines and monoclonal antibodies.
The PSAB reviewed policy issues of importance to microbiology and committee activities for the coming year.
ASM Attends the Laboratory Response Network Partner’s Meeting
Alice Weissfeld, member of PSAB Professional Affairs Committee, represented ASM at the February 10 meeting of the Laboratory Response Network (LRN) Partner’s group in Atlanta, GA. Topics for discussion were the impact of budget cuts on response capabilities and electronic data messaging. The LRN was created in 1999 as a consequence of the Presidential Decision Directive 62 entitled Combating Terrorism (PDD-62) and, in the years since its creation, the LRN has played an instrumental role in improving the public health infrastructure by helping to boost laboratory capacity across the nation. For more information about the LRN, please visit http://www.bt.cdc.gov/lrn/partners.asp
ASM Signs on to CLC Letter Opposing Laboratory Cuts
ASM joined with the Clinical Laboratory Caucus (CLC), a group of laboratory and health care organizations, representing America’s community, regional, and national laboratories and asked key members of Congress to oppose any cuts to the Medicare Part B Clinical Laboratory Fee Schedule as they work to address physician pay cuts. Clinical laboratories have already suffered deep cuts as a result of health reform; there is a direct and immediate cut to the Part B Clinical Lab Fee Schedule of 1.75 percent each year from 2011 through 2015. This nine percent cut is the largest decrease among all Part B providers. Clinical laboratories also received another cut through the productivity adjustment, one of only a few providers subject to an immediate adjustment in 2011, resulting in an additional 11 percent cut over ten years. Together, the direct cut and the productivity adjustment result in a cumulative 20 percent cut over ten years. Laboratories are also facing up to a 2 percent cut to the fee schedule as a result of sequestration, which begins in January, 2013. To read the letter go to: http://www.asm.org/images/pdf/Clinical/clcletterlabcutsbaucus.pdf.