Created by on 11/19/2012

On November 1st, the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) organized a conference call with National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Francis Collins, MD, PhD. Participating on the call with Dr. Collins were Presidents of the FASEB constituent societies, members of the FASEB Board and Science Policy Committee, and society executives and public affairs Staff. In total, nearly 100 people from 25 of FASEB’s 26 societies took part in the discussion.
The idea for the call came during a meeting between FASEB President Judith S. Bond. PhD and Director of Policy Howard Garrison, PhD with Drs. Collins, Lawrence Tabak, Sally Rockey, and Kathy Hudson on October 5, 2012. Given the numerous challenges facing the biomedical research community, it was felt that a dialog between the leadership of the FASEB societies and the NIH director would be of great value.
Dr. Bond opened the call, welcoming the participants and introducing Dr. Collins. In his remarks, the NIH director called this a “critical moment for biomedical science.” The science has never been more exciting, yet funding for NIH has remained flat since 2003. When adjusted for inflation, the fiscal year 2012 NIH budget is 20 percent lower than in 2003. With the increasing number of investigators applying for NIH funds, success rates have plummeted. The Director acknowledged that times are very stressful for everyone involved and have been made more so by the looming threat of major cuts due to sequestration. Dr. Collins thanked FASEB for the state and district factsheets that highlight the value of NIH research and also called attention to the NIH Impact Website – a new one-stop shop for information and data.
FASEB President Bond noted that the research community was also highly concerned about the funding situation. She urged those on the conference call to spread the word about the value of NIH research. With Congress on recess, she pointed out that this was an ideal time for home district meetings. Dr. Bond reminded the group that FASEB had just that morning released an e-action alert calling on scientists to contact their Senators and Representatives and voice their strong opposition to sequestration. She urged the leaders of the FASEB member societies to relay the message to the scientists and engineers in their disciplines.
Dr. Collins took questions from the group on working with patient advocates, responding to efforts to discredit research, the importance of telling personal stories about the promise of biomedical research, and the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences. In the ensuing conversation, participants on the call discussed the importance of NIH for international competitiveness and how the agency’s investment in basic research is something that the private sector is unable to do. In his concluding remarks, Dr. Collins expressed concern for the next generation of researchers