AAI Public Affairs

The AAI public affairs program advocates on behalf of AAI members by identifying critically important issues in immunology and biomedical research, providing recommendations to relevant federal officials [including those at the National Institutes of Health (NIH)], and urging Congress and the Administration to increase funding for NIH and other key agencies/programs.

  • Federal Agencies to Begin Fiscal Year Flat-Funded
    House and Senate Bills Would Provide Substantial Increase for NIH Fiscal year (FY) 2019 came to an end on September 30 without Congressional passage of any of the 12 annual appropriations bills for FY 2020. As a result, Congress passed, and President Donald Trump signed into law, a continuing resolution (CR) that funds most federal agencies and programs at approximately last year’s funding levels through November 21, 2019. Read more »
  • AAI Participates in 7th Annual Rally Hill Day
    For the seventh consecutive year, AAI was a sponsor of, and participant in, the Rally for Medical Research Capitol Hill Day (“Rally Hill Day”). Rally Hill Day, which this year featured nearly 300 participants and had the support of about 350 organizations, brings together a wide range of NIH stakeholders, including medical researchers, clinicians, patient advocates, patients, and those working for the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, to advocate on Capitol Hill for increased funding for NIH. Read more »
  • President Trump Signs Executive Order to Improve Influenza Vaccines
    President Trump signed an Executive Order (EO) in September on “Modernizing Influenza Vaccines in the United States to Promote National Security and Public Health.” While emphasizing that vaccination is the most effective way to prevent seasonal influenza, the EO describes improving influenza vaccines as a “public health and national security priority, as influenza has the potential to significantly harm the United States and our interests, including through largescale illness and death, disruption to military operations, and damage to the economy.” Read more »
  • White House, Congress Reach Crucial Budget Agreement
    Following months of negotiations between key leaders in the White House and Congress, President Donald Trump signed into law today a sweeping budget deal that will facilitate the funding of federal government agencies and programs over the next two years. The two-year budget agreement lifts existing caps on both nondefense and defense discretionary spending (spending that Congress must appropriate annually) for fiscal year (FY) 2020 and FY 2021, and suspends the federal debt limit through July 31, 2021. The House approved the budget agreement by a vote of 284-149 on July 25th while the Senate approved it by a vote of 67-28 on August 1st. Read more »
  • NIH Acts to Increase Inclusiveness in Scientific Conference Speaking Panels
    In June, NIH Director Francis Collins announced that he would no longer speak at scientific meetings or conferences if inclusiveness is not evident in the agenda. Noting that “too often, women and members of other groups underrepresented in science are conspicuously missing in the marquee speaking slots at scientific meetings and other high-level conferences,” Collins called for an end to “the manel [all-male speaking panel] tradition” and said that he now “expect[s] a level playing field, where scientists of all backgrounds are evaluated fairly for speaking opportunities.” He also “challenge[d] other scientific leaders across the biomedical enterprise to do the same.” Following Collins’ announcement, several NIH leaders have made similar statements, including Michael Lauer, M.D., Deputy Director for Extramural Research; Richard Hodes, M.D. (AAI ‘75), Director of the National Institute on Aging (NIA); and Jon Lorsch, Ph.D., Director of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS).
  • New Restrictions on NIH-funded Research Involving Fetal Tissue
    The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently announced policy changes for research involving human fetal tissue obtained from elective abortions. The changes were announced in a June 5 statement and will effectively end this type of research within the NIH intramural program by prohibiting NIH from acquiring such new fetal tissue. For the extramural community, the policy created an additional layer of review by an ethics advisory board for new and competitive renewal grant applications involving this type of tissue. Read more »
  • AAI Submits Testimony Supporting International Scientific Collaborations and Exchange
    AAI President JoAnne Flynn, Ph.D., submitted testimony to the Senate Finance Committee for its June 5 hearing on “Foreign Threats to Taxpayer-Funded Research: Oversight Opportunities and Policy Solutions.” Read more »

AAI Public Affairs Activities

Apply now for the 2020-21 AAI Public Policy Fellows Program

AAI is now accepting applications for the 2020-21 Public Policy Fellows Program (PPFP). The AAI PPFP engages early career researchers (within 15 years of receiving their terminal degrees) in a year-long program that teaches how federal legislative action and agency activities affect the conduct and funding of biomedical research – and how AAI works on behalf of its members for the best possible outcome. Successful applicants will have the opportunity to visit Capitol Hill to advocate for biomedical research and will participate in AAI public affairs activities at the AAI annual meeting. Except for these two experiences, Fellows will not need to travel or leave their institutions or labs.

Deadline: January 22, 2020

For more information or to apply, click here.

Please contact Jake Schumacher, AAI Manager of Science Policy and Legislative Affairs, with any questions (jschumacher@aai.org).

Diversity and Harassment in the Biomedical Research Workforce Focus of Key Session at IMMUNOLOGY 2019™

During IMMUNOLOGY 2019™ the AAI Committee on Public Affairs (CPA), the AAI Minority Affairs Committee (MAC), and the AAI Committee on the Status of Women (CSOW) sponsored a session entitled, “Fostering Diversity and Preventing Harassment in the Biomedical Research Workforce.” This timely and important session, which was chaired by CPA Chair David Chaplin, M.D., Ph.D. (AAI ’86), MAC Chair Robert Binder, Ph.D. (AAI ’02), and CSOW Chair Laura Solt, Ph.D. (AAI ’13), featured presentations by the following experts:
  • Elizabeth Hillman, J.D., Ph.D., President of Mills College and a Member of the Committee on the Impacts of Sexual Harassment in Academia at the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM), described key findings and recommendations of the June 2018 NASEM report entitled, “Sexual Harassment of Women, Climate, Culture, and Consequences in Academic Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.” Access her presentation here.
  • Hannah Valantine, M.D., Chief Officer for Scientific Workforce Diversity at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), discussed NIH’s “scientific approach to inclusive excellence.” Access her presentation here.
  • Avery August, Ph.D. (AAI ’99), HHMI Professor, Professor of Immunology, and Vice Provost for Academic Affairs at Cornell University, spoke about ways that academic institutions can address diversity and inclusion. Access his presentation here.

AAI Issues Statement on the Importance of Vaccination and the Measles Outbreak

In response to the current measles outbreak, AAI Committee on Public Affairs Chair David Chaplin, M.D., Ph.D., issued a statement on the importance of vaccines. Chaplin highlights the AAI view that vaccines are safe, effective, and save lives. The statement was released in conjunction with a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing, entitled “Vaccines Save Lives: What Is Driving Preventable Disease Outbreaks?”

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