e-Public Policy Update - June 2012

ASM Sends Letters to Congress on Government Travel Restrictions
The ASM sent a letter to Congress urging members to revise legislative language that severely restricts government employees from attending meetings and conferences held by scientific organizations, other associations and the private sector.  The letter was in response to amendments to two different bills that passed the House and the Senate in April. The amendments would curtail spending on government agency sponsored conferences and enhance reporting of government travel expenses, but were written in a way which would have the consequence of precluding government scientists’ participation in more than one scientific conference sponsored by an organization in the same year. The ASM said the amendments are broader in scope than is necessary to meet the goals of the legislation and would seriously impact scientific research and public health initiatives of agencies such as the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  To read the letter go to:  May 17, 2012 - ASM Sends Letter to Congress on Government Scientist Travel Restriction Amendments.  The ASM also signed onto two coalition letters on the same topic.  To read the letters go to:   http://asae.cms-plus.com/files/FileDownloads/PublicPolicy/Open%20Letter%20to%20Congress%20on%20Govt%20Travel%20with%20Signatures%20MERGED%2005.08.2012.pdf and  http://www.asm.org/images/pdf/Policy/travelrestrictions-house.pdf.  

The House Approves H.R.5651, a Bill that Would Reauthorize FDA User Fees
H.R. 5651, The Food and Drug Administration Reform Act of 2012 passed in the House by a vote of 387-5 on May 30.  It would provide a five-year extension to the collection of industry user fees that fund the FDA’s review of prescription drugs and medical devices. It also would create two new user-fee programs: one for biosimilar biological products and one for generic drugs.  Of particular interest are two new provisions.  The first, found in Title VI, Sec. 604, prohibits FDA issuance of draft guidance on the regulation of Laboratory Developed Tests (LDTs) without a 60 day notification to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and the Senate Health Education and Pensions Committee of intent to issue guidance.  The second, Title VIII, Subtitle C, entitled “Generating Antibiotic Incentives Now”, would provide a five year extension of exclusivity for any antibacterial product for human use that treats a serious and life threatening infection caused by a qualifying pathogen.  Qualifying pathogens include, but are not limited to, MRSA, VRE, multidrug resistant Mycobacterium spp., Pseudomonas spp., and ESBL producing K. pneumoniae and E. coli strains.  The Senate version, S.3187, The Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act of 2012, does not contain the provision on LDTs and passed by a vote of 96-1 on May 24. 

The current authorization of FDA User Fees (PL 110-85) expires Sept. 30.  The draft legislation used for the vote can be found by going to the following website: http://republicans.energycommerce.house.gov/Media/file/Markups/FullCmte/20120509/BILLS-112hr5651ih.pdf

FY 2013 Appropriations Update
In May, the House approved H.R. 5326, the FY 2013 Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations bill which included funding for the National Science Foundation (NSF) and other federal agencies.  In this bill, the NSF received $7.3 billion or $100 million below the President’s budget request, of which: $5.94 billion for research and related activities or $40 million below the budget request; $196 million for major research equipment and facilities construction or the same as the request; and $876 million for education and human resources, also the same as the President’s budget request.  The Senate version, S 2323, would give $7.3 billion to the NSF; and $5.88 billion for Research and Related Activities.  The amounts for major research equipment and facilities and education and human resources are the same as in the House bill.

The House also marked H.R. 5325, the FY 2013 Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, which provides funding for the Department of Energy (DOE.) In this bill, the DOE would receive: $4.8 billion for the Office of Science and $542 million for Biological and Environmental Research.  In the Senate version, S 2465, the Office of Science would receive $4.9 billion; $1.7 billion for basic energy sciences and $625 million for Biological and Environmental Research.

In April, the Senate appropriations committee reported on S. 2375, the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill of 2013 which provides funding for the FDA and USDA.  The committee recommended $2.54 billion for FDA salaries and expenses plus an additional $1.38 billion for user fees; $5.3 million for buildings and facilities; $867 million for foods, $209 million for biologics and $319 million for medical devices.  The bill would also give the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture $739 million for research and related activities; $ 298 million for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI); $1 billion for the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) and $1.1 billion for the Agricultural Research Service   

For up to date information on the FY 2013 budget process, please visit the Public Affairs Public Policy webpage at: Research and Development Funding for FY 2013.

ASM Signs onto Letter Regarding NIH Salary Caps
On May 12, 2012, the ASM joined 160 other organizations in signing a letter urging Congress to restore the salary limit imposed on extramural NIH researchers to Level I of the Executive Pay Scale.  To read the letter go to:  http://www.asm.org/images/pdf/Policy/salarycapsignonletter0512.pdf.

ASM Supports Agricultural Research Foundation
In June, the ASM endorsed a letter sent to the House Committee on Agriculture supporting the establishment of a Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR.)  The letter, signed by more than seventy organizations, urged Congress to follow the lead of the Senate and include language in the Research Title of the 2012 Farm Bill to create FFAR.  The Foundation would work to generate additional funding for food and agricultural research, supplement federal investments and appropriations and encourage the development of new private/public partnerships to enhance the USDA’s research mission.  To read the letter, go to:  http://www.asm.org/images/pdf/Policy/ag-house6-4-12.pdf.

ASM Comments on Draft Recommendations for Identification of Chronic HCV Infection
The ASM sent comments to CDC on the Federal Register notice, Recommendations for the Identification of Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) Chronic Infection on June 6. These draft recommendations are intended to increase the proportion of persons with chronic HCV who are properly diagnosed and treated.  ASM’s comments address specific aspects of the laboratory testing process for HCV.  To read the letter go to:  June 6, 2012 - ASM Comments on Draft Recommendations for Identification of Chronic HCV Infection.

CMIIM Publishes First Ever List of Minority Microbiologists
The Committee on Microbiological Issues Impacting Minorities (CMIIM) List of Minority Microbiologists (CLMM) was developed as a by-product of profiles that were first published in The Minority Microbiology Mentor newsletter (http://www.asm.org/mmm), which was established in 2006 and as a result of the often-asked question, "Where are the minority microbiologists?" 

On multiple occasions a list of this nature has been requested by officials representing the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, numerous journal editors and other organizations who also seek to increase the diversity of reviewers, speakers, panelists, applicants and editors.

This monthly e-newsletter has provided a central means of distributing pertinent information to underrepresented minorities and others in the field of microbiology. Some examples include career advice, networking tips, relevant news articles, unique funding and career opportunities, microbiological issues affecting minorities (e.g., HIV), minority issues affecting microbiologists (e.g., minority recruitment and retention), and scientific articles published by minorities or by minority-serving institutions (MSIs).

The first edition of the CLMM is now available at CMIIM List of Minority Microbiologists.  The aim of the CLMM is to spotlight minority microbiologists in a central and publicly accessible manner.  This represents an initial effort to develop an inclusive listing as possible, and the CLMM is by no means exhaustive.  It must therefore be noted that the CLMM only represents a subsample of the minority microbiologists of the past, present and future.  The next phase of the CLMM will include the grouping of scientists according to eras representing receipt of terminal degrees (e.g., pre-1950, 1950-1959, etc.).  The information in the profiles has either been verified by the respective microbiologist or obtained from the Internet.

It is hoped that the CLMM will continue to grow in the future as the population of minority microbiologists grows.  The CMIIM invites submissions of additional minority microbiologists (complete bios and CV's must accompany all submissions).  Please send these submissions to cmiim@asmusa.org.  

ASM Selects Congressional Science Fellow for 2012 -2013
The American Society for Microbiology has awarded the ASM Congressional Science Fellowship to Kristen E. Shatynski for 2012 – 2013.  Kristen will work on the staff of a member of Congress or congressional committee during her fellowship year. 

Kristen is in her final year as a Ph.D. student in the Graduate Program in Life Sciences at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.  She received her B.A. from La Salle University in Biology in 2006.  The primary goal of her dissertation has been to investigate the mechanisms for immunologic changes in chronic granulomatous disease (CGD), a primary immunodeficiency that is characterized by recurrent bacterial infections.  In addition to her training in microbiology and immunology, she has a strong multidisciplinary background in the biological sciences.  She is the recipient of the NIH funded Vascular Biology Training Program Grant, which provides research training related to cell biology, inflammation and vascular biology.  Kristen is excited about bringing her science background to Capitol Hill, “Becoming a Congressional Science Fellow is very important to me because I want to enhance my ability to make the work of scientists understandable to the public.  I believe that effectively communicating the importance of scientific research will help solve some of the biggest issues that the US faces today including, health care, the economy and national defense.”

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 publicaffairs@asmusa.org for more information on the ASM fellowship or go to the ASM web page for a program description:  Congressional Science Fellowship.  The deadline for applications for the 2013 – 2014 fellowship is February 22, 2013. 

ASM Submits Comments to NAS on Seeking Solutions Conference
The ASM submitted comments to the National Academies in response to their request to submit testimony on a conference the NAS is holding called, "Seeking Solutions: Maximizing American Talent by Advancing Women of Color in Academia."  The comments were written by the Committee on Microbiological Issues Impacting Minorities (CMIIM).  To read the letter go to:  May 24, 2012 - ASM Submits Comments to NAS on Seeking Solutions Conference. Marian Johnson-Thompson, Ph.D., Chair of the CMIIM was invited by NAS to represent ASM at the conference on June 7 – 8, 2012.

PSAB asm2012 Activities
The Public and Scientific Affairs Board (PSAB) is sponsoring a number of special interest sessions at asm2012 in San Francisco:

Sunday, June 17, 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Striking the Balance in Fresh Produce: Food Safety, Animal Control, Water Sourcing and Environmental Impact - Research Issues in Microbiology

Developed by the Committee on Agricultural and Food Microbiology

Room 132

Sunday, June 17, 11:00 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Microbiome: Racial and Ethnic Differences

Developed by the Committee on Microbiological Issues Impacting Minorities (CMIIM)

Room 306

Sunday, June 17, 11:00 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

In the Year 2525: Survival Strategies and Clinical Microbiology's Leadership Role in Tomorrow's Healthcare Teams

Developed by the Committee on Professional Affairs

Esplanade Ballroom 305

Sunday, June 17, 3:00 – 5:00 p.m.

The Highway to Success for Women in Microbiology: Avoiding the Potholes and Roadblocks

Developed by the Committee on the Status of Women in Microbiology (CSWM)

Room 254

Tuesday, June 19, 11:00 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

H5N1 Research Controversy and Dual Use Research Issues

Room 104

Tuesday, June 19, 11:00 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

The Practice of Clinical Microbiology in Pediatrics

Esplanade Ballroom 305

Check the daily schedule at http://gm.asm.org/ for more details.