The ASCB Public Policy Committee (PPC) has long been a key participant in discussions of science policy issues that are relevant to the scientific community. As the Committee looks to the future, its goal is to maintain that high level of involvement in policy debates on Capitol Hill. The Committee’s upcoming activities include closely following the 21st Century Cures bill, advocating sustained funding growth for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), helping ease restrictions on travel to scientific conferences by federally employed scientists, and ensuring that basic research remains relevant to legislators.
Additionally in 2016, the PPC seeks to address scientific policy issues facing the broader ASCB community through another white paper. The Committee has previously released white papers that addressed immigration, stem cell research, and reproducibility. All had significant impact, either on Capitol Hill or at NIH. The Committee is considering several topics for the next report with the goal of ensuring that the white paper is relevant and timely.
The PPC is helped tremendously by the public policy director, who serves as the foot soldier for the Committee and for the cell biology community. The public policy director is the person who walks the halls of Congress, NIH, and the Office of Science and Technology Policy, building a case for decisions and programs that will advance science and the practice of science. But at least through the beginning of 2016, the Committee will have to make do without a public policy director until the ASCB fills the position made vacant when longtime director Kevin Wilson left. The Committee is moving forward with its efforts, though. Lynn Marquis, the Director of the Coalition for the Life Sciences, will help with some of the activities the Committee wants to pursue. More importantly, the Committee remains in good hands under the leadership of current chair Connie Lee. The PPC will be looking for new members with fresh ideas that will help strengthen current programs and projects, as well as looking for new ways to advance sound science policy.
In many ways, 2016 looks to be a year to rebuild the PPC and build on and improve its past successes.