Dear members and friends,
Two calls to action - one ASAP and the other for the long term.
State public policy
The General Assembly is reaching the close of the Session. The Session has been defined by budget battles in light of the projected shortfall in state revenue, and by a power struggle between legislative and executive branches over control of the state’s economic development apparatus, VEDP.
Until last week, the priority issues of Virginia Bio have escaped threat of harm, but the recently released House budget cut funding for VBHRC by $2.5M, or 50% for the coming year. Fortunately, the Senate budget maintained VBHRC funding at $5M, as did the Governor’s Introduced Budget. The differences between the House and Senate budgets are being resolved by a dozen Budget Conferees from Senate and House by negotiations now, and continuing into this weekend.
A cut of that size will mean many of the outstanding applications for grants under the current program cannot be funded, and VBHRC will have little capacity to create some of the focused statewide R&D infrastructure that last year’s General Assembly authorized them to do.
Please take a moment to contact one or more of the conferees and indicate your support for VBHRC, and the importance for full funding of $5M. This is Budget Item 106 I.1. The list of conferees and their contact information here.
Healing our Heroes
One of the pillars of our statewide conference THRIVE 2017, on April 6 at Virginia Beach, will be a program focused on biomedical research, development and commercialization in support of veteran and military health and medicine.
The long-term vision here is that Virginia is uniquely resourced and uniquely positioned to take a lead role in biomedical R&D and commercialization in this area. We have an extensive active military and veteran population, and broad and deep support socially and politically for these communities. We have researchers and companies working in these areas already, and others which could do so. We have major military installations, and major veteran and military health care institutions. We are proximate to greater Washington DC where many of the decision makers, convening events, and research facilities are located. The Conference program seeks to encourage and enable the extension of this commitment of support to an area of research, clinical and economic development opportunity of increasing attention to state policy makers.
The purposes of the program are:
· to gather from across the Commonwealth leading clinicians, researchers and industry R&D and executives who are currently working in - or who are committed to begin working in, areas of biomedical research and development which will support the work of the to assist the work, plus state public policy leaders, and to improve the lives;
· to inform them of current and future needs of the programs for the veterans and military, to focus on priority areas of unmet needs and opportunities;
· to build a consensus to extend Virginia’s commitment to our veterans and military personnel to leading the national effort to heal our heroes, and
· to inform national leaders of military and Veterans Health in this area of the resources and strengths Virginia researchers and institutions have to bring to bear.
Among the leading national and state speakers at the conference on April 6 will be:
Dr. Jennifer Lee, MD, the Deputy Under Secretary for Health for Policy and Services, Veterans Administration. In this position, Dr. Lee provides guidance to the Under Secretary for Health on matters related to health care policy, strategic objectives, and policy requirements for legislatively mandated health care delivery programs. She also provides leadership for the various Health Policy and Services programs within the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), including its research enterprise, to ensure VA’s overall strategic objectives and agency priority goals are met.
Rachel B. Ramoni, D.M.D., Sc.D. Dr. Ramoni is Chief Research and Development Officer, Veterans Health Administration. As CRADO, she oversees VA's nationwide research enterprise, encompassing some 2,000 active projects at more than 100 sites. The program's total budget in fiscal 2016 was $1.8 billion. The figure includes both direct VA support, and research funding from outside entities such as the National Institutes of Health, other federal agencies, and nonprofit and private organizations.
David Cifu, M.D. is Chairman and the Herman J. Flax, MD Endowed Professor (tenured) of the Department of PM&R at the Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) School of Medicine in Richmond, Virginia. He is also Chief of PM&R Services of the VCU Health System and Founding Director of the VCU-Center for Rehabilitation Sciences and Engineering (CERSE). He is the Senior TBI Specialist for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. He is Principal Investigator of the VA/DoD $62.2 million Chronic Effects of Neurotrauma Consortium (CENC).
Please join us on April 6 at the Hilton Virginia Beach Oceanfront for our every-two-year statewide gathering of the bio-community from industry, university and policy, and join us in taking steps toward further developing Virginia into the state which leads the nation’s efforts to support and Heal our Heroes through biomedical R&D and commercialization.