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Out of the Lab and Into the Streets: Medical Researchers Protest Cuts in DC

Among the thousands of researchers rallying in support of medical research on the streets of Washington this week was former ASCB President Tim Mitchison. Photo by Kevin Wilson
Among the thousands of researchers rallying in support of medical research on the streets of Washington this week was former ASCB President Tim Mitchison. Photo by Kevin Wilson

Stalled traffic and stalled legislation are facts of life in downtown Washington, DC, and yet on Monday (April 8), K Street was blocked off for hours by an unlikely protest group— medical researchers. Over 10,000 scientists, physicians, patients, and science advocates sealed off this major downtown traffic artery to make the point that cutting medical research is dangerous to America’s human and scientific health.

The Rally for Medical Research was organized by the American Association of Cancer Research (AACR) whose members came pouring out of its 2013 annual meeting at the Washington Convention Center at precisely 1l:00 am on Monday to stop traffic on K Street. Over 200 other organizations, including the ASCB, worked with the AACR in the planning of the 90-minute Rally, which heard a list of speakers from U.S. Representative Chris Van Hollen to actress Maura Tierney decry the folly of defunding cancer research. The Rally was emceed by ABC political reporter Cokie Roberts, herself a cancer survivor, who told the crowd, “It could not be a stupider time to cut back on funding for medical research.”

One of the most passionate speakers was U.S. Representative Rosa DeLauro, a 27-year survivor of ovarian cancer and the ranking Democrat on the House subcommittee responsible for the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) budget. DeLauro cited studies showing a two-fold economic return on the federal investment in the NIH. “If we cannot get the nay-sayers on the humanity of medical research,” DeLauro said, “Let’s get them on the economics.”

After hearing Marc Tessier-Lavigne, President of the Rockefeller University, and a number of patients speak, the bulk of the crowd moved back to the scientific business at hand inside the AACR meeting. Traffic on K Street returned to gridlock as usual.

Created on Tuesday, April 9, 2013

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