Washington Update

ASHG Annual Meeting Features Forum on Advocacy

By: Jennifer Zeitzer
Thursday, November 1, 2018

There was an enhanced focus on advocacy at the 2018 American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) annual meeting in San Diego last month. Attendees were offered several opportunities to learn more about ASHG’s advocacy priorities and resources, as well as ways to engage at the local level.

The centerpiece of the programming was a session entitled “ASHG 2018 Advocacy Forum: Speaking up for Genetics Research Funding,” which provided an overview of how funding for biomedical research is determined  and steps the the genetics community can take to communicate the importance of sustained investments in genetics research to Congress. ASHG President David L. Nelson, PhD, explained the society’s commitment to advocacy and discussed his personal experience going to Capitol Hill to urge his Senators and Representatives to increase funding for the National Institutes of Health.

Attendees also received a broad overview of the federal budget process, the time of year individuals and scientific societies should take action to maximize influence on congressional funding decisions, and how ASHG works with FASEB to ensure that the voices of genetics researchers are heard on Capitol Hill. ASHG Science Policy Analyst Jillian Galloway reviewed the various tools available to society members including an online Advocacy Center, e-alerts, and Ten Ways to be A Genetics Advocate tip sheet. She also encouraged genetics researchers to take the new ASHG Advocate Pledge.

The session concluded with a panel discussion led by Derek Scholes, PhD, ASHG Senior Director of Science Policy, exploring why it is critical for the society to be engaged in advocacy, how Congress’ attitude to National Institutes of Health funding has changed over the last decade, and what ASHG is doing to help its members incorporate advocacy into their lives. Posters throughout the meeting venue and the ASHG exhibit hall booth also showcased the advocacy pledge and Ten Ways document.