On March 5, 2014, Drs. Lou Justement (Microbiology), Beth Brown (Epidemiology and Microbiology) and John Chatham (Pathology) travelled to Washington D.C., in between snow storms, to participate in the 2014 Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) Capitol Hill Day visit. They were accompanied by Joel M. Widder from the Oldaker Group who served as the group liaison.
The FASEB Capitol Hill Day is an annual event during which members of the FASEB Board and Science Policy Committee go to Capitol Hill to meet with their legislators to request increased support for the NIH and NSF. Drs. Justement, Brown and Chatham met with staff from Senators Shelby and Sessions offices as well as Representative Sewell’s office. They also had an opportunity to meet directly with Representative Bachus to discuss the important role that UAB plays in the economic growth of Alabama and how its activities foster improved health for the state. Representative Bachus was very supportive as were all of the legislators that they spoke with.
A summary of the FASEB Capitol Hill Day visit for 2014 prepared by Jennifer Zeitzer of FASEB can be viewed here.
Activities such as these are important to raise awareness of the effects that decreased support for NIH and NSF have on the future of biomedical research in the US. If anyone has an interest in speaking out on behalf of biomedical research, they should contact Drs. Justement, Brown or Chatham for advice. Additionally, most professional societies have active public affairs offices that are willing to arrange visits to Capitol Hill. Remember, you can take the initiative to contact your legislators at any time by email or phone, and be sure to respond to requests to contact your legislator sent out by FASEB or other societies. The more often Congressional legislators hear from the scientific community, the more likely they will be to appreciate the importance of the NIH and NSF.