Emory Research Advocacy Network launches to build grassroots support

Emory Report | Jan. 9, 2017

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The new Emory Research Advocacy Network is a grassroots effort engaging Emory's students, alumni, patients, staff and neighbors to support groundbreaking research and the next generation of scientists.

In an effort to engage more of the community in legislative advocacy, Emory's Office of Government and Community Affairs has created the Emory Research Advocacy Network (ERAN). This network of students, alumni, patients, staff and neighbors will communicate with legislators and their staffers to advocate for a facet of the university that cuts across all schools and disciplines: research.

Research is at the core of Emory’s work and is vital to maintaining a vibrant university community. ERAN will focus on three aspects of the research enterprise in its advocacy.

First, Emory and ERAN support the maintenance and enhancement of research funding. "The surest way to continue advancing science and cures in this country is sustainable federal funding of research," the network explains.

Second, the peer review process is an essential arbiter of scientific quality and maintaining its integrity is critical to the research enterprise. "Oftentimes, the title or aim of a research product sounds ludicrous to the ears of a layman," the network notes in its talking points, and the role of the peer review process is expert evaluation.

"Emory continues to believe that the peer review process, and the selections for grant funding that comes out of that process, ensure integrity of the research enterprise," ERAN continues. "We trust the peer review process and our scientists to vet research proposals based on their merits, not on their names."

Finally, any reallocation of compliance costs, by reducing regulatory burden, should be invested back into research. "Studies have consistently shown that principal investigators of federally sponsored research projects spend, on average, 42 percent of their time associated with administrative tasks," the network explains. "By streamlining administrative requirements for scientists and recipients of research grants, we break down barriers that get in the way of medical progress and help ensure that our country’s innovators are able to focus on achieving the lifesaving breakthroughs that so many patients and families are hoping to see."

Emory community members interested in advocating for research can sign up to join the network. ERAN provides members with a tip sheet and talking points for communicating with lawmakers and asks members to report back on the discussions and outcomes from those discussions.

The network encourages community members to "make it personal" by talking with legislators about either their experiences as researchers or how they have benefited from research, noting that "your personal story and research can help tell a broader story about the importance of research."

In the first week of its launch, 50 people have signed up to advocate as part of ERAN.

"The more voices and stories representing Emory that are heard, the greater chance we have at maintaining, and growing, the research enterprise that benefits our patients, scholars and scientists," the OGCA states.