As lingering winter storms swirled around America’s Eastern Seaboard in mid-April, 18 Arizonans walked the halls of Congress visiting U.S. Senators, Representatives, and their staffs. According to Martin Shultz, chair of Arizona’s Bioscience Roadmap Steering Committee, “Our goal was threefold: update our hosts on Arizona’s concentrated investment to build a bioscience research infrastructure and ‘next steps,’ provide a glimpse of what the biosciences looks like in their respective districts, and thank them for continuing to support our growing bioscience sector.”
On April 18, the Arizona bioscience leaders met with seven of 10 Arizona congressional delegation members and all 10 staffs, plus staff of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and the House Committee on Science and Technology. In addition, several Arizonans took a side trip to the Washington, D.C. office of Arizona State University’s Biodesign Institute to meet with Dr. James Collins, head of the National Science Foundation’s Directorate for Biological Sciences. Dr. Collins offered insights about NSF’s focus on “grand challenges within the life sciences” and exciting future prospects for science in Arizona and throughout the United States.
The group hosted a reception in honor of the newest members of Arizona’s congressional delegation: U.S. Reps. Gabrielle Giffords of Tucson and Harry Mitchell of Tempe. Shultz noted in his remarks to the 50 guests that two of Arizona’s major research institutions, ASU and the University of Arizona, have strong allies in Giffords and Mitchell, both of whom serve on the House Committee on Science and Technology. Among the attendees were U.S. Rep. Ed Pastor and Brian deVallance, director of the State of Arizona’s Washington, D.C. office.
On April 19, the group traveled to Bethesda, Md. to meet with William Fitzsimmons, executive officer of the National Institutes of Mental Health. Fitzsimmons outlined new programs and initiatives that NIMH has recently launched in the areas of autism and bipolar disorder, and the state of the NIMH budget. Arizonans in turn outlined innovative work and collaborations in autism, Alzheimer’s disease, and other mental health research being undertaken back home.
Shultz anticipates Steering Committee members will visit Washington, D.C. in the spring of 2008. “Every week something positive happens in the biosciences here in Arizona, so we’ll have plenty of success stories to share with our congressional delegation next year.”
Making the trip were Jason Baran, City of Tucson; William Camp, Sun Health Research Institute; The Honorable Joseph Donaldson, City of Flagstaff; Dari Duval, Greater Phoenix Economic Council; MaryAnn Guerra, Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen); Katherine Hutton, City of Scottsdale; Saundra Johnson, Flinn Foundation; Jack Lunsford, Westmarc; Kathy Matt, Arizona State University; Jon McGarity, Arizona Bioindustry Association; Stephanie McKinney, Greater Flagstaff Economic Council; Jim McPherson, Flinn Foundation; Michael Meyer, Institute for Mental Health Research; Julie Pastrick, Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce; Joan Shapiro, St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center; Martin Shultz, Pinnacle West Capital Corp./APS; Shay Stautz, University of Arizona; and Lynn Timmons, City of Phoenix.