Straight Talk: New Thinking on Tough Challenges

Is medical progress living up to the expectations of Americans? Are we aiming high enough to find solutions to deadly and disabling diseases? Leaders in government, industry, patient advocacy, scientific societies and academia discussed the challenges and the promise of medical research and innovation at the National Health Research Forum on September 8 at the Newseum in Washington D.C. Hot topics addressed at the Forum are below and a full recap is here.

Research Funding

“I have a bit of a concern when all that we have is initiatives, and we don’t have a situation where there’s enough basic biomedical research to be able to be the incubators for initiatives of the future. So my feeling would be that I think we’ve done as well as we could have done, on the very, very serious budgetary constraints, but looking forward I would like to see that delicate balance between initiatives and the undifferentiated research that is so important to what we do.” — Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., Director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases


“ The National Science Foundation is very much engaged not only investing in fundamental research but in the STEM workforce and in STEM education. And this is something that private entities are also just increasingly becoming aware of and committing resources to, and I think there’s a real opportunity here to figure out who does what, and universities are, of course, changing their approaches.” — France A. Córdova, Ph.D., Director, National Science Foundation


“You know in the case of prevention, on the one hand, you identify some aspects of it that are well known but there is often a need for synthesizing knowledge about what our best strategies are around prevention and making sure that knowledge is moved in a systematic way to the front lines of care. And if we don’t do that, that is where we’ll get some of the disparities start to occur between those who have means and those who do not in terms of what the available resources are to be able to attack the issue.” — Andrew B. Bindman, M.D., Director, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality

“You know it’s unfortunate but prevention just is not sexy — but as a person who worked on immunization and vaccine preventable diseases for decades, it’s extraordinary what prevention does and we really just forget about it. You know for the past 20 years of vaccinating children we’ve prevented 300 million illnesses, and saved 1.4 trillion dollars.” — Anne Schuchat, M.D., Principal Deputy Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Food and Drug Administration Priorities

“The whole FDA comes together and puts together briefing documents on these really complex, difficult issues that are just amazing to learn about, and out of those 150, we selected 16 with the time that we had to focus on, and, you know, some of them are — have already been mentioned — emerging threats to public health, like infections and terrorism. The opioid epidemic is another. Precision medicine is another. I could go down the whole list, but I won’t, and I’m pleased to say we’re making, you know, I think, pretty good progress on all…” — Robert M. Califf, M.D., Commissioner, Food and Drug Administration

More photos are available here and the full recap is here.