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STAT

STAT: With Trump in White House, Obama Science Experts Operate Shadow Network to Press Their Positions in Washington

Washington, DC, August 7, 2017 — Lev Facher reports on STAT that nearly all of the Obama administration’s science staff has departed the White House since January, and the Trump administration has moved slowly to replace them.

In the meantime, however, an unofficial shadow office, stocked with Obama loyalists, is quietly at work.

The network, described to STAT by officials from the previous administration who are involved, is informal yet organized, allowing for a far-reaching if largely inconspicuous effort to continue advocating for the Obama science agenda. Continue reading

Rebuffing Trump’s Call for Cuts, Congress Boosts NIH Funding by $2 Billion

Washington, DC, May 1, 2017 — Lev Facher reports in STAT that the National Institutes of Health will get a $2 billion funding boost over the next five months, under a bipartisan spending deal reached late Sunday night in Congress.

The agreement marks a sharp rejection of President Trump’s proposal to cut $1.2 billion from the medical research agency in the current fiscal year.

The deal does not address funding for 2018, when Trump has called for a slashing the NIH’s budget by about a fifth, or $5.8 billion. Continue reading

STAT: Fearful of a Trump Administration, Many in Research Call for a ‘Tutorial’ for the President-Elect

STATBoston, MA, November 12, 2016 — Sharon Begley reports on STAT that biomedical and public health researchers struggled Wednesday to fathom what the incoming Trump administration might mean for their fields, as they tried to separate their personal views about the election (many supported Hillary Clinton) from what’s known or expected about the president-elect’s plans.

“It’s so hard to know” what the Trump White House will do, said Dr. Eric Topol, director of the Scripps Translational Science Institute and professor of genomics at the Scripps Research Institute.

One hopeful sign: Newt Gingrich, former speaker of the House of Representatives and a close Trump ally, last year called for a doubling of the National Institutes of Health budget and is a strong supporter of science research (he used to have a replica of a T. rex skull in his office). Continue reading

STAT: VP Biden Unveils ‘Cancer Moonshot’ Report; Here Are 3 Big Projects the White House Is Pursuing

STATWashington, DC, October 18, 2016 — Dylan Scott reports on STAT that the White House’s cancer moonshot, the future of which Vice President Joe Biden outlined in a new report on October 17, has a lot of moving parts.

The report details nearly 20 projects that are already underway or soon will be in the moonshot’s first year and another two dozen planned for its second year and beyond.

Major themes include harnessing big data, sharing research among scientists, and expanding preventive measures like the HPV vaccine and colorectal cancer screening.  Some of these efforts will be run by the government; others are being led by the private sector.

Here are three big projects that caught our eye. Continue reading

STAT: Precision Medicine Helped Eric Dishman Beat Cancer. Now He’s Leading Obama’s Initiative

Photography by Portland Oregon Photographer Craig MItchelldyer www.craigmitchelldyer.com 503.513.0550

Eric Dishman

Washington, DC, April 13, 2016 ― Sheila Kaplan reports on STAT that Eric Dishman is a guy who doesn’t mind pulling up his shirt, loosening his pants, and giving himself an ultrasound in front of hundreds of people.

Dishman did it for a 2013 TED talk to demonstrate the usefulness of modern health technology — by showing that his new kidney was doing okay.  It isn’t what you’d expect from a guy who’s about to take on a big role for the Obama administration.

But for Dishman, the INTEL health advocate named Monday to lead a key part of the president’s Precision Medicine Initiative, it’s all part of his mission: using his first-hand experience with doctors and hospitals to convince people that the future of medicine can be very different from what it has been. Continue reading

FDA Designated a Record Number of Orphan Drugs Last Year

STAT PharmalotBoston, MA, February 12, 2016 ― Pharmalot’s Ed Silverman reports on STAT that orphan drugs may target small patient populations, but they are racking up big numbers at the Food and Drug Administration.

Last year, the agency received a record 472 requests from companies to have their medicines designated as orphan drugs.  And the FDA agreed to award 354 designations, which was a 22 percent increase over 2014.

As for approvals, Silverman reported that the agency endorsed 41 orphan medicines, just seven fewer than the previous year, according to the FDA Office of Orphan Products Development. A designation, by the way, means the FDA has decided a drug qualifies for orphan status and takes place before a drug is approved. Continue reading

Thirty Organizations to Share Data in Fight Against Spread of Zika Virus

Zika mosquitoBoston, MA, February 11, 2016 ― Eric Boodman reports in STAT that the often-hermetic world of scientific research and publishing is making an exception for the Zika virus.

Thirty organizations — including scientific journals, nonprofit groups, and research institutes — announced jointly on February 10 that they would share any data or results that could be helpful in fighting the spread of Zika.

The announcement of the data-sharing initiative could be especially useful to help investigate Zika, experts say, since so little is known about the virus. Public health officials have expressed frustration with limited access to data during previous health emergencies. Continue reading