Capitol Hill Day Report

Chhavi Chauhan, PhD

The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) hosted a two-day long FASEB Virtual Capitol Hill Day on March 09, 2021 and March 11, 2021.  Forty-nine participants from 29 states and representing 26 FASEB societies attended the virtual event. Hawaii and Montana were represented for the first time. In all, 110 bipartisan meetings were held, which included 57 Senate meetings (32 D’s/24 R’s/1 independent) and 53 House meetings (37 D’s/16 R’s). At the time of writing this report 10 offices had followed-up abut submitting formal requests supporting FASEB’s funding recommendations.

Like previous years, the representatives from the American Society for Investigative Pathology (ASIP) attended the event (virtually) and advocated for increased science funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF). The specific asks were:

  1. FASEB and 300 other organizations recommend that NIH receive $46.11 billion in FY 2022
    • $46.11 billion ($3.2 billion or 7.5%) above FY 2021 would fund support careers for younger researchers and keep pace with inflation allowing NIH to fund new grants
  2. FASEB and 100 other organizations recommend that NSF receive $10 billion in FY 2022
    • $10 billion ($1.5 billion or 18%) above FY 2021 would allow NSF to create new early-career fellowships, fund more grants, and increase NSF’s average award size

The ASIP Team comprised of the ASIP Past President, Dr. Daniel Remick, Boston University, MA, who represented ASIP (MD), the Shock Society (OR), and the Association of Pathology Chairs (APC, DE); Ms. Mona Dai, a 2nd year Graduate Student at Harvard University, MA; and Dr. Chhavi Chauhan, Director of Scientific Outreach at ASIP, MD.  Dr, Chauhan led the ASIP Team in these meetings. 

On March 9th, the ASIP Team met with Dr. Crystal Grant, Science and Technology Fellow in Senator Elizabeth Warren’s office and Ms. Karlee Popken, Legislative Aide, Ms. Michele Solomon, AAS Fellow, and Ryan McKeever, Legislative Correspondent from Senator Ed Markey’s Office. Dr. Elaine Bearer with FASEB representative Bethany Drehman, met with each New Mexico Senator’s staff, Brooke Stuedell, Military Legislative Assistant, and Katie Mertens, Legislative Correspondent for Senator Ben Ray Lujan and Andrea Mares, Legislative Aide, and Claire Wengrod, Legislative Correspondent for Senator  Martin Heinrich.

On March 11th, 2021, the ASIP Team met with Casey Davison, Legislative Aide and Press Assistant in Rep. Katherine Clark’s office and Sianay Chase, CBC Social Justice Fellow from Rep. Ayanna Pressley’s office.  The meeting with Sianay Chase was attended by Drs. Remick and Chauhan from the ASIP Team. Dr. Elaine Bearer with FASEB representative Bethany Drehman met with New Mexico Representative Deb Haaland’s staff member, Alejandro Oms, Legislative Assistant. Former Representative Deb Haaland has subsequently been appointed and confirmed as Secretary for the Interior and will join President Biden’s cabinet as the first Native American to hold that post.

Additionally, other ASIP members also participated in the Capitol Hill Day. Dr. Cecelia Yates and Dr. Melanie J. Scott at the University of Pittsburgh, met with Pennsylvanian representatives. On March 9 they met with the representatives for the offices of Senators Bob Casey and Pat Toomey. On March 11 they met with the offices of Rep. Mike Doyle, Rep. Guy Reschenthaler, and Rep. Madeleine Dean. Dr. James Musser at Houston Methodist met with representatives for the offices of Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, Congresswoman Lizzie Fletcher, and representatives of Congressman Al Green and Congresswoman Veronica Escobar. Dr. Elaine Bearer at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center met with staffers for congressional members from New Mexico. Dr. Charles Frevert at the University of Washington also participated in the event.

All meetings were engaging and positive. The ASIP Team had a meaningful conversation with the officials where the team stressed the importance of science funding to the officials, especially in the context of sepsis, the COVID-19 pandemic and the urgent steps that enabled testing treatment and vaccine development due to established infrastructure and funding supporting Biosafety Level 4 facilities like the National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratory at Boston University to allow COVID research, as well as for supporting research performed by young career scientists. Topics explored in Dr. Bearer’s meetings included discussions of congressional mandated funding, the value of government science funding for education, innovation and enterprise and the benefit of scientific knowledge to the economy. 

In each meeting, the ASIP team advocated for increased science funding for the NIH and the NSF as stated earlier. 

More specifics of the request for additional funding may be found here:

FASEB – Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology > Science Policy and Advocacy > Federal Funding Data > Annual Federal Funding Recommendations

Information about the funding in individual state and district funding may be found here:

FASEB – Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology > Science Policy and Advocacy > Federal Funding Data > Federal Funding by State & District

After the conclusion of the meetings, Dr. Chauhan followed up with the FASEB staff (Ms. Jennifer Zeitzer and Ms. Ellen Kuo) to provide additional requested information to the meeting attendees.  Specifically, Dr. Grant from Senator Warren’s office had requested additional information on NIH funds that can be used for students to extend their training interruptions due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.  She had also requested specifics about the newly created early-career fellowships, especially for NSF. The FASEB staff confirmed that they will follow up with Dr. Grant on behalf of the ASIP Team. In addition, Casey Davison from Representative Katherine Clark’s office and Sianay Chase from Rep. Ayanna Pressley’s office requested that we submit the ask through their websites created to organize advocacy requests for funding.  Dr. Bearer also included links requested for further information in her email correspondence about New Mexico, and Bethany Drehman, the FASEB representative, sent the financial details for the ask.  

Dr. Chhavi Chauhan
Director of Scientific Outreach
ASIP

Dr. Daniel Remick
Boston University
MA

Ms. Mona Dai
Graduate Student
Harvard University

Dr. Elaine Bearer
University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center

Cecelia Yates

Dr. Cecelia Yates 
University of Pittsburgh

Dr. Melanie Scott
University of Pittsburgh

Dr. James Musser
Houston Methodist

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