The U.S. House of Representatives passed a new coronavirus relief package, The Heroes Act, on May 15, 2020. If passed by the Senate and signed by the President, this will be the fifth measure adopted by Congress to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
We, the undersigned scientific organizations representing tens of thousands of members of the American biomedical research enterprise, are alarmed by the National Institutes of Health's revocation of a peer-reviewed research grant for studies of coronaviruses by EcoHealth Alliance. Not only is this decision counterintuitive, given the urgent need to better understand the virus that causes COVID-19 and identify drugs that will save lives, but it politicizes science at a time when, if we are to stamp out this scourge, we need the public to trust experts and to take collective action.
More than ever before, the country is relying on the scientific enterprise to help guide our path to recovery. Scientific progress and U.S. economic development are vastly accelerated by bringing the best and brightest minds together. Therefore, we urge you to prioritize the immigration of science and technology talent that will spur the scientific breakthroughs and economic growth of the United States that is needed for rapid recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lawmakers in the House and Senate have called for the next coronavirus stimulus package to include $26 billion in funding to address the challenges faced by the U.S. scientific workforce during the pandemic. The proposed funding would cover supplements for research grants and contracts, provide emergency relief to sustain research support personnel and operating costs for research facilities, and fund additional graduate student and postdoc fellowships, traineeships, and research assistantships for up to two years. The Dear Colleague Letters calling for this support has been endorsed by several scientific organizations, including AIBS.
AIBS Public Policy Office has released their analysis of science funding in President Trump’s proposed fiscal year 2021 budget.
As professional scientific organizations, we know the power of collective action to solve problems -- it is how research has advanced for centuries. Today, we stand united in a spirit of diversity and inclusion and offer our support for people of Asian ancestry, rejecting efforts to ascribe fault for the pandemic, and instead urge a focus on leveraging global human diversity to solve today's public health crisis. The organizations below applaud and support your Congressional resolutions to denounce anti-Asian discrimination as related to COVID-19.
Please take a few moments to write to your members of Congress about providing scientific organizations with critically needed aid to help cope with financial loss due to COVID-19.
The Biodiversity Collections Network (BCoN) is a national initiative led by the American Institute of Biological Sciences, Natural Science Collections Alliance, and Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections. Through the membership of its founding organizations, BCoN represents the diversity of biological science societies, natural history museums and arboreta, living collections, and other research centers and organizations.
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On behalf of the undersigned organizations, thank you and everyone at the National Science Foundation who are working so diligently during this time of chaos to sustain our scientific and education enterprise.