Science-Engineering-Technology Congressional Visits Days

Charlie Smith

The Society for Mathematical Biology was represented by its Secretary, Charlie Smith, at the 4th Annual Science, Technology, and Engineering Congressional Visits Days on April 21 and 22 in Washington, D.C. SMB participated as part of the American Institutes of Biological Sciences (AIBS) group. - A copy of their summary report is given below.

What is Congressional Visits Days? "The CVD is a two-day annual event that brings scientists, engineers, researchers, educators, and technology executives to Washington to raise visibility and support for science, engineering, and technology. Uniquely multi-sector and multi-disciplinary, the CVD is coordinated by coalitions of companies, professional societies and educational institutions and it is open to all people who believe that science and technology comprise the cornerstone of our Nation's future."

The FY-2000 proposed budget for science funding was reviewed by the various funding agencies. Some items of particular interest to SMB members include:

  1. Presidential Initiatives in FY2000
    1. Information Technology for 21st Century, including software and algorithm research and development in support of genomics, clinical trials, and bioinformatics; training and grants to encourage physicists, engineers, mathematicians, and computer scientists to advance computing in biomedical research.
  2. NIH:
    1. Proposed budget includes a 3 % increase in Research Project Grants support over FY1999
    2. FY2000 initiatives include Exploitation of Genomic Discoveries; Interdisciplinary research targeted at physics, mathematics, engineering, computer science, chemistry, and structural biology. I spoke with Marvin Cassman of NIGMS about concerns over appropriate review panels for the interdisciplinary initiative.
    3. Some NIH areas of scientific emphasis in proposed budget:
      • Biology of Brain Disorders ($2.6 billion)
      • New Approaches to Pathogenesis ($2.4 billion)
      • New Preventative Strategies Against Disease ($2.8 billion)
      • New Avenues for the Development of Therapeutics ($1.5billion)
      • Genetic Medicine ($1.5 billion)
      • Bioengineering, Computers and Advanced Instrumentation ($672 million)
      • Health Disparities ($681 million)
    4. the following resource may be of interest: CRISP (Computer Retrieval of Information on Scientific Projects) is a searchable database of federally funded biomedical research projects conducted at universities, hospitals, and other research institutions.
  3. NSF: (50th Anniversary Year in 2000)
    1. Graduate Teaching Fellows in K-12 Education ($7.5 million). This program supports fellowships and associated training that will enable graduate students and advanced undergraduates in the sciences, mathematics, engineering, and technology to serve in K-12 schools as resources knowledgeable about both the content and applications of science, mathematics, engineering, and technology.
    2. Biocomplexity ($50 million): Phase I Research on the Functional Interrelationships Between Microorganisms and Biological, Chemical, Geological, Physical, and Social Systems
    3. Initiatives for integrative science in ecological research (including modeling).
  4. DOE: is part of genome program, also has a microbial genome project
  5. Defense Science and Technology: Program on Cognitive Readiness includes physiological monitoring, and augmented reality
AIBS Summary Report:

AIBS's Executive Director Richard O'Grady and Communications Representative Jodi Kolber were joined Wednesday, April 21, and Thursday, April 22, by Council Representatives Gaylen Bradley (Society for Industrial Microbiology), Charlie Smith (Society for Mathematical Biology), and Amy Ward (Association of Ecosystem Research Centers) for the Science-Engineering-Technology Work Group's fourth annual Congressional Visits Day (CVD). For the second consecutive year, AIBS received interest from members of the AIBS Council to attend the event to represent their societies, their interests, and their science in the policy arena.

AIBS concentrated its efforts on the first day of events, where briefings were provided by such notables as Neal Lane (OSTP), Rita Colwell (NSF), Dan Goldin (NASA), Ernest Moniz (DOE), and Representative Connie Morella (R-MD). Details of their presentations will be included in a report of the event in an upcoming issue of AIBS News in BioScience.

At a reception that evening, AIBS was present as an award for a prolonged and deep commitment to science was presented by SETWG to George Brown (D-CA), Minority Chair of the House Science Committee and author of H.R. 88 to repeal the FOIA A-110 provision. Awards for activities on behalf of science were also presented to Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) and Pete Domenici (R-NM). The CVD reception and award presentations drew attendance from almost two dozen members of Congress, including Rep. John Larson (D-CT), Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-GA), Science Policy Study project leader Rep. Vernon Ehlers (R-MI), and Science Committee Chair Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI).

The second day of events began with a breakfast briefing on Capitol Hill delivered by Rep. Sensenbrenner. Following breakfast, Amy Ward, President-Elect of AERC, joined AIBS on visits to the full Alabama delegation (Dr. Ward is a constituent) and House Science Committee, Senate Environment and Public Works, and Senate Energy and Natural Resources offices, speaking to staff of the educational resources that AIBS and AERC, a member society, can provide to policy makers and noting the importance of the areas of biology under AIBS's umbrella.

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