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.

  • NIH Receives $2.6 Billion Increase for FY 2020
    Nearly three months into fiscal year (FY) 2020, Congressional leaders and the White House announced in December that they had reached an agreement on appropriations bills for fiscal year (FY) 2020. Per the agreement, the funding bills were divided in into two packages, including an 8-bill package that funds the Department of Health and Human Services, among many other departments and agencies. Read more »
  • AAI Council Advocates on Capitol Hill; Presents 2018 and 2019 AAI Public Service Awards
    Members of the AAI Council recently visited Capitol Hill to describe the importance of immunology research and to urge their Members of Congress to increase funding for NIH. Council Hill Day participants visited a total of 18 congressional offices, where they asked Members of Congress and their staffs to support an NIH budget increase of at least $2.5 billion for FY 2020, for a total budget of $41.6 billion. They also urged the rapid passage of the FY 2020 Labor-HHS appropriations bill (which funds NIH), explaining the damage caused by continuing resolutions (CRs) to the agency, to researchers, and to the broader research enterprise. Read more »
  • Report on Sexual Harassment Featured at NIH ACD Meeting
    During last week’s NIH Advisory Committee to the Director (ACD) meeting, the ACD discussed several important issues. The ACD Working Group on Changing the Culture to End Sexual Harassment, which was established in 2018, issued its final report. During the presentation, the Working Group provided an update on NIH actions related to this topic... 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 »
  • 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 Public Affairs Activities

AAI Submits Testimony to the House Recommending a $3 Billion Funding Increase for NIH

AAI Committee on Public Affairs Chair Ross Kedl, Ph.D., submitted written testimony on behalf of AAI to Congress on March 20 recommending a funding level of at least $44.7 billion for NIH for fiscal year (FY) 2021. The testimony, which was submitted to the House Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS) Appropriations Subcommittee, highlights important advances in immunology, including developments in cancer immunotherapy and vaccines, and in particular stresses the role the immune system is playing in the quest to develop treatments and a vaccine for the novel coronavirus.

AAI will submit similar testimony to the Senate Labor-HHS Appropriations Subcommittee.

AAI Issues Statement on President Trump’s FY 2021 Budget Request

On February 10, AAI Committee on Public Affairs Chair Ross Kedl, Ph.D., issued a statement on behalf of AAI strongly opposing President Trump’s proposed $3 billion budget cut to NIH for fiscal year (FY) 2021. In the statement, Kedl states that “[s]uch a cut would impede important immunological research, hamper efforts to invest in the next generation of biomedical researchers, and continue to damage America’s global scientific competitiveness.”

It’s important to note that this is just the first step in a long annual budget and appropriations process. NIH is currently operating under a $41.7 billion budget for FY 2020 through September 30, 2020.

AAI Submits Comments to NIH on Data Management and Sharing

In November, NIH released a draft policy for data management and sharing. The policy “reinforces NIH's longstanding commitment to making the results and outputs of the research that it funds and conducts available to the public.” It would require researchers to develop and submit, as part of the extramural award Just-in-Time, a plan detailing how data will be managed and shared. (NIH also released draft supplemental guidance on the elements of a plan and allowable costs.)

The policy would apply to all NIH-funded research, both intramurally and extramurally, that generates scientific data. Compliance with the Institute-approved plan will become a Term and Condition of the award.

NIH sought input on the draft policy, including its scope, definitions, requirements, and enforcement, as well as on the draft supplemental guidance, through early January. AAI submitted comments to NIH agreeing with the principle and need for data sharing, preservation, and management, but making a wide range of suggestions and important questions to consider before moving forward with a final policy.

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