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Public Affairs

Rally for Medical Research Hill Day—September 18

On Wednesday, September 18, the Biophysical Society will be participating in the Rally for Medical Research Hill Day. Along with representatives of over eighty groups from the medical research advocacy community, BPS representatives will meet with House and Senate offices in Washington, DC, to urge Congress to make funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) a national priority.

The day will also provide opportunities for advocates, including BPS members, across the country to contact their elected leaders and let them know how important a sustained federal investment in the NIH is to improve health, spur more progress, inspire more hope, and save more lives.

Visit the Biophysical Society website for the most up-to-date information and to learn how to participate in the September 18 event!

Report Calls for National Lab Reforms

The US Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Laboratories are a central part of the US federal research enterprise, costing $20 billion annually in public research dollars. According to a recently released report, the labs, which were created in the 1940s to develop the atomic bomb, are in need of reforms in order to be more effective in the 21st century. The report, Turning the Page: Re-imagining the National Labs in the 21st Century Innovation Economy, was released by three think tanks, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), the Heritage Foundation, and the Center for American Progress (CAP), representing a broad spectrum of political inclinations. In the report, the three groups offer a set of policy proposals to allow the labs to be more flexible, provide better interaction with the private sector, and provide more coordination across the DOE.

“The national labs are a tremendous source of cutting-edge research and scientific talent, but their operations are still based on a decades-old management model that no longer meets the needs of our modern innovation ecosystem,” notes Matthew Stepp, Senior Analyst with ITIF and lead author of the report, in a press release. “This study presents a series of twelve proposals for Congress and the Administration that can ensure the labs better meet their mission and produce useful technologies that spur economic growth and create jobs.”

The reforms presented fall into three main categories: (1) removing DOE micromanagement of lab decisions and replacing it with more robust contractor accountability; (2) reforming the DOE program offices to better coordinate lab stewardship, budgeting, and research; and (3) providing better incentives and flexibility for the labs, industry, and universities to move promising technologies to market. The report can be read in its entirety at http://bit.ly/14N3o60.

New Faces in Washington

Robert Simon, OSTP Associate Director
President Obama nominated Robert Simon to serve as associate director for energy and environment in the Office of Science and Technology Policy. Simon currently serves as a consultant in the office, and previously held a senior advisory position in the Energy Department’s Office of Science. He also led the Democratic staff of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee from 1999 to 2012 and worked in the Department of Energy’sOffice of Energy Research before that. Simon holds a PhD from MIT.

In his new role, Simon will oversee OTSP’s work on energy and environmental issues, which includes providing the President and his senior staff with accurate, relevant, and timely scientific and technical advice, ensuring that the policies of the Executive Branch are informed by sound science, and to ensuring that the scientific and technical work of the Executive Branch is properly coordinated so as to provide the greatest benefit to society.

France Anne Cordova, NSF Director
Obama nominated France Ann Cordova to be the next Director of the National Science Foundation, Cordova is President Emerita of Purdue University, where she served as President from 2007 to 2012. From 2002 to 2007, Cordova served as Chancellor of the University of California at Riverside, where she was a Distinguished Professor of Physics and Astronomy. Previously, Cordova was at the University of California at Santa Barbara, NASA, Pennsylvania State University, and Los Alamos National Laboratory. She is Chair of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution and a member of the National Science Board. Cordova received a BA from Stanford University and a PhD from the California Institute of Technology.

Jon R. Lorsch, NIGMS Director
Jon Lorsch was sworn in as NIGMS Director on August 5. In this position, Lorsch oversees the Institute’s $2.291 billion budget, which primarily funds basic research in the areas of cell biology, biophysics, genetics, developmental biology, pharmacology, physiology, biological chemistry, biomedical technology, bioinformatics and computational biology. NIGMS supports nearly 4,500 research grants—about 10.5 percent of those funded by NIH as a whole—as well as a substantial amount of research training and programs designed to increase the diversity of the biomedical and behavioral research workforce. Lorsch came to NIGMS from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, where he was a professor in the Department of Biophysics and Biophysical Chemistry. He joined the Johns Hopkins faculty in 1999 and became a full professor in 2009.

September 2013 Table of Contents