The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Public Affairs Advisory Committee and public affairs department have recently had several policy recommendations included in appropriation bills, laws and federal agency policies, and we’d like to share our successes with you.
Here’s what we’ve been up to.
Strengthening security, protecting collaboration
Over the past several years, the ASBMB has advocated strongly against racial profiling of Asian and Asian American scientists and urged science federal funding agencies to uphold scientific integrity. This was born out of concerns about racial profiling within the Department of Justice’s China Initiative, which was partly focused on cases of suspected grant fraud and economic espionage by federally funded scientists.
The ASBMB submitted written testimony for Congressional hearings on the importance of international collaboration. We also pushed the White House Office of Science and Technology to reform research security policies on preventing foreign influences in federally funded research while maintaining openness, transparency and international collaboration. The OSTP is now in the process of reforming research security policies, and the DOJ has officially ended the China Initiative.
Improving NIH fellowship review
The ASBMB PAAC made five recommendations to the National Institutes of Health Center for Scientific Review on Jan. 23 to strengthen and improve the National Research Service Award fellowship review process so that it would support scientists whose work has been and continues to be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic; ensure that women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics are given fair and equal opportunities; and promote diversity in the STEM pipeline. The center incorporated several of the ASBMB’s policy recommendations, such as eliminating grades as an evaluation criterion since grades are not an accurate measurement of success. You can read more here.
Modernizing national labs; support for training
In August, President Joe Biden signed into law the CHIPS and Science Act, which authorized funding and policies to bolster research and development across the country. This bipartisan bill combined multiple legislative efforts to increase American competitiveness in science and technology research and enhance research security policies. During the ASBMB’s 2022 Capitol Hill Day, members of the Public Affairs Advisory Committee advocated for provisions within this bill that would modernize the infrastructure of the national labs, strengthen the bioeconomy and support training programs for the next generation of scientists. Many of the provisions we supported and endorsed have now become law. Read more here.
Addressing sexual harassment
In a letter sent May 25, the ASBMB asked Senate and House appropriators to include language in the fiscal year 2023 appropriations bill that would require the National Institutes of Health to establish a strategic plan and a timeline to address and mitigate harassment within the NIH’s Intramural Research Program. The Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies subcommittee included the ASBMB’s requested language, which will go a long way to address sexual harassment in the science, technology, engineering and medicine fields.