Guest Post: Mary Woolley, President and CEO, Research!America

Guest Post: Mary Woolley, President and CEO, Research!America

04.04.11 | By Mary Woolley

On March 15, Research!America convened its 2011 National Health Research Forum, bringing together experts from the public and private sectors to discuss key health and research issues.

PhRMA CEO John Castellani sat on a panel moderated by Clive Crook of The Atlantic, with co-panelists Francis Collins, MD, PhD, director of the National Institutes of Health; Margaret Hamburg, MD, commissioner of the FDA; David Page, MD, director of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research; Ellen Sigal, PhD, chair and founder of Friends of Cancer Research; and former Congressman Mike Castle.

I was struck by several points Mr. Castellani made. He challenged us all to prioritize sustaining the talent we need to own the high end of the value chain, and, commenting on gaps in that value chain, he emphasized the need to bring research successes to patients in more expeditious ways. He said that while the pipeline - from basic discoveries to product development and patient delivery - presents opportunities for government, industry and academia to work together, not all those opportunities have been taken so that the U.S. can realize the full benefit of its competitive advantage. His point is an important one. More robust collaboration is essential to bridge the gap between basic biomedical discoveries and speeding those discoveries into the products that America's pharmaceutical companies develop for patients.

Dr. Hamburg described regulatory science as key to bridging that gap. Ramping up regulatory science is necessary to more effectively and efficiently evaluate drugs developed with today's state-of-the-art development science. Dr. Collins spoke of establishing the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences at NIH to support research that complements what the private sector does well and bring NIH expertise to bear to help streamline drug development. The panelists agreed that a well-funded, high-functioning research pipeline is critical for the U.S. to maintain its lead in science and innovation and to improve health for all Americans.

The Forum conversation gave us clear insights into what research and innovation need to succeed. At this critical time, with federal budget debates in full swing, we must move quickly to action. Here are three things all stakeholders in the future of health can do: 1) sign this petition to protect NIH funding; 2) urge your elected officials to state their views on health and research at Your Congress-Your Health; and 3) make an appointment with your Representative in your home district to talk about public and private jobs created by research, improved health, heightened productivity and stronger competitiveness.

PhRMA was a sponsor of the 2011 National Health Research Forum.

- Mary Woolley, President and CEO, Research!America

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