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June 03, 2020

Research and Technology Subcommittee Chairwoman Stevens Holds Bipartisan Teleconference on Biological Science Research and COVID-19 Response

(Washington, DC) – Today, the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology’s Subcommittee on Research & Technology held a bipartisan teleconference with Dr. Fleming Crim, Chief Operating Officer at the National Science Foundation (NSF) and Dr. Joanne Tornow, Assistant Director of the Directorate for Biological Sciences at NSF to explore recent advances in fundamental biological science and how such research has contributed to advances in public health and biotechnology. 

“The current COVID-19 crisis has mobilized the scientific community in unprecedented ways to beat back this one common enemy,” said Chairwoman Haley Stevens (D-MI) of the Subcommittee on Research and Technology. “Scientists of all backgrounds are joining the breakneck race to understand, track, model, and mitigate the impact of the coronavirus pandemic as it barrels across the world. We are in a race for our lives. A race to understand the origins and limit transmission of the virus. A race to develop and effectively implement diagnostic testing, treatments, and – ultimately – a vaccine. NSF is uniquely positioned to foster interdisciplinary collaboration to accelerate scientific progress during this crisis because it funds research across all non-biomedical disciplines. NSF has been funding biological science research for decades and has ramped up its support for COVID-related research in recent weeks.”

The Members and panelists on the call discussed how NSF’s investments in biological science have enabled a rapid scientific response to and increased the understanding of the COVID-19 outbreak, from the microscopic to the ecological scale. Additionally, participants of the call explored how these advances in public health and biotechnology, combined with lessons learned during the current outbreak, could be used to develop novel capabilities to help manage and predict future pandemics and what is needed from Congress and the Administration to move these efforts forward in the long term. 

“Federal funding for biological science research has led to breakthroughs in our understanding of life, with a profound impact on human health and wellbeing,” said Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX). “Fundamental biological science research has informed efforts to sustain biodiversity and healthy ecosystems, develop individualized medical therapies, improve food security, wisely manage our natural resources, and combat emerging diseases. The COVID-19 health crisis brings into sharp focus the need for additional Federal support for research across all biological science disciplines to shore up our capacity to prepare for and respond to future threats.”