By the ASHG Policy and Advocacy Department
Speaking out about the value of human genetics and genomics research is all the more important during the COVID-19 pandemic. This week, the genetics community has been doing just that, raising awareness about both the major challenges faced by the community and the ways in which genetics research can provide answers.
First, on Monday, ASHG President Anthony Wynshaw-Boris, MD, PhD discussed the crucial role of genetics and genomics research in the fight against the new coronavirus on the Research!America blog. Dr. Wynshaw-Boris emphasizes that he is “…inspired by the ways in which the genetics and genomics community is applying its knowledge and resources to play its part in addressing the pandemic.” He describes the launch of new initiatives aimed at understanding the human genetic underpinnings of disease susceptibility and severity, and stresses the importance of prior public investments in biomedical research for preparing us for an effective public health response.
Proposed Relief for Researchers
The pandemic has presented fundamental challenges for the entire biomedical research community, with labs shut down, grant applications and training disrupted, and scientific progress delayed. This is why, as Congress is negotiating additional funding packages in response to COVID-19, ASHG members have endorsed the efforts of Representatives Diana DeGette (D-CO) and Fred Upton (R-MI) to secure $26 billion in relief funding for research institutions and researchers. If passed by Congress, the funding will be distributed to the NIH and other research-funding agencies to cover supplements for grants, support personnel and costs for core research facilities, and additional funds for graduate students, postdocs and other trainees.
United We Stand
Also this week, ASHG signed on to a multi-society letter to Congress in support of congressional resolutions condemning anti-Asian discrimination as related to COVID-19. The lead sponsors of the resolutions are Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY), and Senators Kamala Harris (D-CA), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), and Mazie Hirono (D-HI). As a scientific society, ASHG recognizes and celebrates the power of diverse perspectives, including the contributions of researchers of Asian ancestry, in advancing research and responding to the current pandemic.
Upcoming ASHG Advocacy Webinar
If you are looking to get involved in science advocacy and wondering how to take the first step, be sure to register for the upcoming ASHG webinar, “The Need for Science Advocacy and How to Get Started.” Taking place Wednesday, May 6th at 12pm Eastern, speakers Mary Woolley of Research!America, Allison McCague, PhD of Rutgers University and ASHG GPAC member, and moderator Lynn Jorde, PhD of the University of Utah and ASHG GPAC Chair, will illustrate the importance of science advocacy, the value of communicating with your Members of Congress, and ways in which you can advocate for your profession.