Action Alert: Take Action to Protect Scientific Integrity

September 2004

On Wednesday, September 8, Congress is expected to debate the FY 2005 Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations bill, which funds the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Last year, an amendment by Patrick Toomey (R-PA) offered to the bill would have rescinded funds from five specific grants that had been reviewed for their scientific merit and approved for funding by the NIH. The majority of these grants examined different aspects of sexual development and behavior and sought to inform public health interventions for HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. The amendment failed by only two votes.

While the amendment was defeated, some in Congress continue to express interest in eliminating federal funding for individual NIH grants they find objectionable, even though the projects are within NIH's mission and have gone through the established system of scientific review. During this week’s debate on the bill, an amendment may target sexual behavior research or other areas of scientific inquiry, including basic behavioral research on identity, motivation, and personality. We hope that you will take a moment to call your member of Congress to express your support for NIH.

NIH’s peer review process is the gold standard for determining the quality and relevance of grant proposals. Scientists from universities across the country with expertise in their fields of research make independent and objective evaluations of each proposal submitted to the NIH. Advisory councils with public representation also approve studies before NIH funds them. Efforts to restrict peer-reviewed research would undermine one of the core principles of the research enterprise.

Action Needed

We need you to call your Representative and ask them to support the NIH and the integrity of the peer review process by voting against any amendment that seeks to cut off funding for research projects that have been peer reviewed.

If you do not know who your Representative is, you can find him or her by following this link to the Web site of the U.S. House of Representatives and typing in your zip-code at the appropriate space at the top of the Web site. Find your 9-digit zip code (you may need this to locate your Representative)

We have included a sample script and an article that you may find of interest. Thank you for all your help.

Sample Scripts:

"Hello, my name is ______________ with (affiliation), and I am a constituent. I would like to speak to the Legislative Assistant who works on health care and research issues."

When you get the legislative assistant (LA):
"I am a constituent and a scientist. I am calling express my appreciation for the Representative’s support for the National Institutes of Health and to ask that he/she support scientific integrity by voting against any amendments that seek to cut off funding from grants that have been peer reviewed and funded by the NIH. If such an amendment is offered, do you know how the Representative plans to vote?"

If you get voice mail:
"Please call me back [leave phone number] and let me know how the Representative plans to vote."

If the reply is positive:
"Thank you. We look forward to the Representative’s leadership on this issue.”

If the reply is negative:
"I must tell you that I feel very strongly about this issue. I respectfully disagree with your position and hope you will reconsider.”

Feel free to use personal story/experience/findings of research to make your case and use talking points from the briefing sheet.
"As a constituent and scientist, I have found_____________."

If the staffer has legislative questions or needs more information:
"I will confer with our legislative staff in Washington and either she or I will get back to you shortly.”

Ending the conversation:
"Thank you for your time. Please consider me a resource on the issue."

If you have any questions or comments, please contact Karen Studwell via e-mail or at (202) 336-5585, in APA's Public Policy Office. We would appreciate hearing from you if you call your Representative. Please let us know the response you receive.