Committee on Public Affairs

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The nine members of the AAI Committee on Public Affairs (CPA) are appointed by Council on staggered three-year terms. The Chief Executive Officer serves as a non-voting, ex officio member. Representatives from other groups with which AAI may establish public affairs liaison may be appointed as non-voting members of the committee as needed. The role of the committee is to:
  • develop a consistent position on policy issues that are relevant to the field of immunology and that impact AAI
  • monitor existing and pending legislation, the implementation of public laws, and actions by federal executive departments as reflected in proposed and existing regulations and their implementation
  • coordinate membership participation in this effort by organizing their responses and activities
  • devise ways to educate those in government and the lay-public about the field of immunology
  • maintain liaison with the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) Public Affairs office and with other organizations whose public affairs goals are consistent with those of AAI.


The AAI CPA will identify, analyze, and, as appropriate, respond to policy, legislative, and regulatory initiatives that are of interest to immunologists or to biomedical researchers in general. The CPA will lead the public policy efforts of AAI and interact with relevant government officials and other professional organizations/societies, always advocating for the best interests of science and working to improve the professional lives of immunologists.

The CPA will:

  1. monitor and analyze federal legislation, regulations (proposed and/or existing), and budgets that may impact AAI members and science as a whole, and take action as needed
  2. maintain and/or create contacts/liaisons with Congress, federal agencies, and other professional societies/like-minded organizations, and work as necessary to advance mutual interests
  3. represent and apprise AAI members regarding issues of professional concern, and assist members in informing their elected representatives and their communities about those issues.
For details on the activities of the AAI Public Policy program, including AAI statements, letters, and testimony on science policy and funding issues of concern to members, visit the AAI Public Affairs page.

Advocacy Programs Subcommittee

The Advocacy Programs Subcommittee is responsible for planning and hosting two programs:

  1. the annual AAI Public Policy Fellows Program (PPFP), by
    1. overseeing the application process, including determining applicant eligibility;
    2. reviewing applications and recommending participants to the full CPA; and
    3. undertaking other tasks related to making the program successful.
  2. the AAI Research Advocacy Program (RAP), by
    1. overseeing the program;
    2. preparing and giving presentations which teach program participants about the immune system; and
    3. undertaking other tasks related to making the program successful.
    The RAP may take place annually or less frequently, and may be modified to address AAI advocacy goals.

2023-2024 Subcommittee Members

Jonathan Deane, Chair
Tullia Bruno
Peter Morawski
Virginia Shapiro
Daniela Weiskopf
Gretchen Diehl, ex officio

NIH Subcommittee

The NIH Subcommittee is responsible for analyzing NIH programs/activities and for recommending actions/positions to the CPA on designated issues involving NIH, including:

  • scientific priorities, including portfolio analysis;
  • grant submission and peer review;
  • grant mechanisms and funding distribution;
  • organizational structure;
  • the composition of, and support for, the biomedical research workforce;
  • sexual harassment in science;
  • foreign influences on research integrity; and
  • other topics to be determined by the CPA and subcommittee chair.

2023-2024 Subcommittee Members

Lauren Ehrlich, Chair
Tullia Bruno
Cherié Butts
Peter Morawski
Virginia Shapiro
Mehul Suthar
Gretchen Diehl, ex officio

Public Health and Biosecurity Subcommittee

The Public Health and Biosecurity Subcommittee monitors and recommends action, as needed, to the CPA regarding potential and actual legislative, regulatory, and policy changes affecting the following (and other related) areas:

  • biosecurity laboratories (including personnel issues)
  • bioterrorism/“dual use research”(life sciences research that can also be used for nefarious purposes)
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (including appropriations for the CDC immunology program); fostering better relations with CDC/CDC scientists; and alerting relevant CDC scientists to the value of AAI membership
  • pandemics/influenza
  • public health (as relates to immunology)
  • select agents and toxins
  • vaccines, including increasing vaccine acceptance and combatting misinformation

2023-2024 Subcommittee Members

Cherié Butts, Chair
Jonathan Deane
Lauren Ehrlich
Mehul Suthar
Daniela Weiskopf
Gretchen Diehl, ex officio

  1. Advocate for increased and predictable funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and, as appropriate, other relevant federal funding agencies.
  2. Advocate for increased immunological research and explain its importance to preventing, treating, and curing disease.
  3. Monitor, advocate, and/or comment on federal legislation/federal agency actions impacting immunologists and/or biomedical research, including legislation/actions which may affect
    • the AAI publications: The Journal of Immunology and/or ImmunoHorizons;
    • the NIH peer review process;
    • the NIH portfolio (particularly the balance between basic and clinical or translational research, and between individual investigator-initiated research and “big science”);
    • the national priority areas of biodefense and pandemic research; and/or
    • the nation’s ability to attract, retain, train, and address the needs of a diverse scientific workforce.
  4. Protect the ability of scientists to use animals in research in a humane manner.
  5. Inform members of Congress about issues that are important to AAI and encourage them to take on leadership roles related to biomedical research.
  6. Maintain existing and foster new relationships with key federal officials.
  7. Work in coalition with FASEB, other scientific societies, and other organizations, including patient advocacy groups, to advance the AAI agenda.
  8. Work to better understand the perspectives of all AAI members, including those working in government and industry.
  9. Report to, and consult with, the AAI Council on a regular basis to ensure that AAI leaders are apprised of important issues affecting AAI and of key activities of the CPA.
  10. Engage each member of the CPA on issue(s) of interest to him/her and to the AAI membership.
  11. Inform the AAI membership of committee activities and of issues important to the conduct of research; encourage all AAI members, and particularly trainees and early career members, to become advocates for the profession.
  12. Maintain a robust AAI Public Policy Fellows Program (PPFP) and engage current and as appropriate, former fellows in AAI advocacy.
  13. Amplify AAI as a public-facing resource for immunology and science policy.


The CPA sponsored two important and timely policy sessions at IMMUNOLOGY2022™, the AAI annual meeting that was held in Portland, Oregon, in early May. Both chaired by CPA Chair Peter Jensen, M.D., the sessions were: “ARPA-H: What You Need to Know and How it May Impact Federal Funding of Biomedical Research,” and “Vaccine Acceptance: Lessons from the Past and Tools for the Future.”

The ARPA-H session, which took place shortly after the legislation officially establishing ARPA-H had been enacted, featured three excellent presentations. The first speaker, NIH Acting Principal Deputy Director Tara Schwetz, Ph.D., provided detailed information about legislative and Administration efforts to create this bold new entity focused on use-driven high-risk, high-reward scientific research. Amy Jenkins, Ph.D., a Program Manager at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the entity on which ARPA-H is based, described what she believes constitutes a good “ARPA” project. The final talk was given by Amanda Jamieson, Ph.D. (AAI ’15), an Associate Professor at Brown University, who shared her unique insights as an investigator who has received grant funding from both NIH and DARPA.

The vaccine acceptance session drew a large audience concerned about the problem of misinformation and disinformation and its deleterious impact on both public health, and trust in science. Richard Carpiano, Ph.D., M.P.H., Professor of Public Policy and the University of California, Riverside, gave a broad overview of the landscape, focusing on factors that drive people to vaccinate or not to vaccinate, and offering policy interventions that might address the problem. The audience was also pleased to hear from AAI Councilor Akiko Iwasaki, Ph.D. (AAI ’00), Sterling Professor of Immunobiology and of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology at the Yale School of Medicine, who discussed specific types of misinformation and disinformation that has been spread during the COVID-19 pandemic and some of the ways that she and her colleagues have tried to counter these false claims. Dr. Iwasaki also talked more generally about how scientists can get involved in the public arena, including through some of the lessons she has learned through her robust presence on Twitter.

Virtual IMMUNOLOGY2021™

The CPA sponsored a policy session entitled, “The U.S. COVID-19 Response: Successes, Failures, and Ongoing Challenges,” at Virtual IMMUNOLOGY2021™. The session, which was co-chaired by CPA Chair Ross Kedl, Ph.D., and CPA member Kristin Hogquist, Ph.D., featured a distinguished panel of experts who focused on key aspects of the response. A. Nicole Clowers, M.P.A., the Managing Director of the Health Care team at the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), discussed GAO’s role in carefully analyzing the federal government’s response to the pandemic through a series of reports. Leandris Liburd, Ph.D., M.P.H., M.A., Director of the Office of Minority Health and Health Equity at CDC, talked about the crucial need to address health disparities throughout the response. And Katherine Wu, Ph.D., a staff writer at The Atlantic, shared her unique perspective on how understanding human behavior is a necessary tool to help end the pandemic.


The CPA sponsored two sessions at IMMUNOLOGY2019™, both chaired by CPA Chair David Chaplin, M.D., Ph.D. The first session, “Advocating for Biomedical Research: We’ve Done it and So Can You!,” featured a panel of AAI members from a variety of careers stages who have engaged in science advocacy: Wayne Yokoyama, M.D., Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis; Pamela Fink, Ph.D., University of Washington; Lisa Borghesi, Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh; Jason Gigley, Ph.D., University of Wyoming; and, Mariana Guerra Maupome, D.V.M., Ph.D., Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine.

The CPA’s second session, cosponsored by the AAI Minority Affairs Committee and the AAI Committee on the Status of Women, was entitled “Fostering Diversity and Preventing Harassment in the Biomedical Research Workforce.” The session featured remarks from Elizabeth Hillman, J.D. Ph.D., President of Mills College; Hannah Valantine, M.D., NIH Chief Officer for Scientific Workforce Diversity; and, Avery August, Ph.D., HHMI Professor, Professor of Immunology, and Vice Provost for Academic Affairs at Cornell University. Their presentations are available on the AAI website (Dr. Hillman's presentation, Dr. Valantine's presentation, and Dr. August's presentation).


At IMMUNOLOGY2018™ the CPA sponsored a session entitled “Town Hall Meeting on NIH Efforts to Fund the Next Generation: Progress, Challenges, and Future Directions.” The session, which was chaired by CPA Chair Beth Garvy, Ph.D., featured presentations by NIH Principal Deputy Director Lawrence Tabak, D.D.S., Ph.D., Vice Dean of Weill Cornell Medicine Gary Koretzky, M.D. Ph.D., and Associate Professor at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine Judy Cannon, Ph.D.


At IMMUNOLOGY2017™, the CPA sponsored a session/town hall meeting entitled “Biomedical Research Priorities in the New Administration and Congress.” The event was chaired by CPA Chair Beth Garvy, Ph.D., and featured Science magazine staff writer Jocelyn Kaiser, chair of the CPA NIH Subcommittee David Chaplin, M.D., Ph.D., and AAI Vice President Wayne Yokoyama, M.D.


At IMMUNOLOGY2016™, the CPA hosted a session entitled “Hot Topics in NIH Funding and Research Policy.” The event featured presentations by CSR Director Richard Nakamura, Ph.D., NIA Director Richard Hodes, M.D., and former AAI President Gail Bishop, Ph.D., and was Chaired by CPA Chair Clifford Harding, M.D., Ph.D.

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At IMMUNOLOGY2015™, the CPA hosted a session entitled “Funding for Immunology Research: Non-Federal Opportunities and NIAID Program Update.” The session, which was chaired by CPA Chair Clifford Harding, M.D., Ph.D., featured presentations by William Chambers, Ph.D. (American Cancer Society), Gwen Nguyen (Indiegogo), Bruce Walker, M.D. (Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT, and Harvard), and Daniel Rotrosen, M.D. (NIAID).

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At IMMUNOLOGY2014™, the CPA hosted a session entitled “Rock-Talking with Sally Rockey: The Issues, the Blog, and the Woman Behind It All.” The session featured the Director of the NIH Office of Extramural Research Sally Rockey, Ph.D., and was chaired by CPA Chair Elizabeth Kovacs, Ph.D.

AAI also celebrated the 25th anniversary of its Public Affairs program at IMMUNOLOGY 2014™ with a reception and a performance by the political satire group The Capitol Steps. The CPA reception featured thoughtful remarks by AAI President Marc Jenkins, Ph.D.

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At IMMUNOLOGY2013™, the CPA hosted a session entitled "The Importance of Communicating Science in an Era of Doubters and Deniers." The session was designed to stress the importance and value of communicating science to the public.

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At IMMUNOLOGY2012™, the CPA held two sessions organized by the committee and chaired by CPA chair Derry Roopenian, including "Meet the Advocacy Partners" and "NIH Peer Review: Understanding the New System."

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At IMMUNOLOGY2011™, the CPA held a session, "Got Funding? Why Your Voice is Needed on Capitol Hill." The session included talks by Jeff Frelinger, Paul Allen, Gail Bishop, Olja Finn, and Gary Kline.

The session was organized by the Committee on Public Affairs and chaired by AAI President Jeff Frelinger.

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