FASEB Leadership Reaches Out To Members of Congress in Their Home States
Created by on 08/22/2013

By Jennifer Zeitzer

Over the last several weeks, Board members from the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) have reached out to members of Congress during their summer break by participating in meetings at local offices and attending events hosted by their elected officials. FASEB representatives shared the Federation’s sequestration and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) state factsheets to emphasize the local impact of federal funding for research in states and individual districts and to discuss how sequestration is affecting the biomedical research community.

In early August, Laura Niedernhofer, MD, PhD, Associate Professor at the Scripps Research Institute and the American Society for Clinical Investigation’s representative to the FASEB Board, met with staff from Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s (D-FL) Pembroke Pines district office. Dr. Niedernhofer shared examples of budgets cut to ongoing research projects at Scripps due to sequestration and described how an 18 percent cut to a new grant received by Scripps earlier this summer resulted in a loss of seven research jobs. Dr. Niedernhofer also explained that individual donors and the pharmaceutical industry were unlikely to replace federal dollars to support basic research.

Following the meeting, Dr. Niedernhofer participated in a forum with Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) in Palm Beach County. Senator Nelson addressed the ongoing budget conflicts on Capitol Hill and used biomedical research and the impact of the cuts at Scripps as examples of the damaging effects of sequestration on his constituents.

FASEB Vice President-Elect for Science Policy and Director of the Genetic Disease Program at the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute Hudson Freeze, PhD, recently attended a meeting with Representative Scott Peters’s staff in San Diego. FASEB President-Elect and Michigan State University (MSU) administrator Joseph Haywood, PhD, spoke with aides from Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Carl Levin (D-MI) and Representative Sander Levin’s (D-MI) offices about the impact of the federal budget reductions on a Department of Energy lab located on the MSU campus. Later this month, FASEB Board members from research institutions in Texas are planning to meet with Representative Joaquin Castro’s (D-TX) office to discuss how the NIH budget cuts are affecting the biomedical research community in the San Antonio area.

Others in the research community are encouraged to connect with their senators and representatives before they return to the Hill on September 9. Americans United for Change has launched Accountable Congress.com, an online database (searchable by date and location) of town hall meetings, open houses, listening sessions, and other events that members of Congress are hosting over the August recess. You can also use the House and Senate websites to identify your members of Congress and locate them on social media outlets to find announcements of public events.