Despite steady rain and gray skies, 50 scientists from 27 states participated in the largest Capitol Hill Day to date for the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) on April 14. Representatives of 21 FASEB member societies and nearly all of the basic biomedical science chairs associations met with more than 100 congressional offices to advocate for sustainable and predictable funding increases for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Energy Office of Science, and the competitive research program at the Department of Agriculture. Participants also presented FASEB’s fiscal year (FY) 2016 funding recommendations for the federal science agencies and shared state and district factsheets summarizing the impact of federal science investment on local institutions and businesses.
During their meetings, the researchers explained that a five-year commitment to increasing investment in research and development by five percent annually would help maintain the country’s leadership in science and restore the purchasing power of the NIH budget, which has decreased by 25 percent since 2003. Attendees also thanked legislators who recently signed letters to the appropriations committees supporting funding for NIH and NSF for being champions for those agencies.
FASEB advocates reported that the meetings with members of Congress and their aides were generally positive and that they were thanked for sharing personal stories about their research. Many offices expressed appreciation for and interest in the FASEB factsheets as well as concerns about the Budget Control Act spending caps and the return of sequestration.
In addition to engaging in a dialogue about the benefits of biomedical research, FASEB Hill Day participants offered ongoing assistance and left behind a packet of materials, including:
- Federal Research Funding State and District Factsheets
- FY 2016 Funding Recommendations
- Animal Research Factsheet
- Precision Medicine Breakthroughs in Bioscience Article
- Nanoparticles Horizons in Bioscience Factsheet
FASEB maintained an active presence on social media throughout the Capitol Hill Day, reaching more than 115,000 Twitter users. Messages were targeted to appropriators and new members of Congress. A compilation of photos and tweets can be viewed here. In addition, the Chronicle of Higher Education mentioned the FASEB Capitol Hill Day in an article about fiscally conservative lawmakers who support increasing funding for biomedical research.