Columbia Research Sends Letter to Senator Chuck Schumer and Others

Executive Vice President Jeannette Wing writes to New York members of Congress expressing the university's support of the Build Back Better bill, which provides funding for scientific research. 

October 13, 2021

This week, Jeannette Wing, the executive vice president of research at Columbia, reached out to Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer and Representatives Adriano Espaillat, Mondaire Jones, and Jerrold Nadler to express the university's support of the Build Back Better bill, which provides "critical new funding to revitalize and strengthen our nation’s scientific research enterprise." 

In the letters,  she wrote that "it is particularly encouraging that the bill also identifies both urgent and emerging areas of research as funding priorities, such as climate science, biotechnology, artificial intelligence, and quantum computing. These areas of research demand our immediate attention to improve our collective health and prosperity, and to ensure our role as the world’s innovation leader."

Wing urged the delegates to support the following provisions and investments included in the House bill:

House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology

  • National Science Foundation (NSF): $11 billion in total funding. The bill provides essential new funding for the NSF, including investments in a new use-inspired research and technology focused directorate. The legislation offers $7.6 billion in funding for new and existing research grants, scholarships and fellowships in STEM fields, as well as other types of research and development activities, including $400 million for climate research, and $25 million to the Office of Chief of Research Security Strategy and Policy. The legislation also provides an additional $3.4 billion for desperately needed research infrastructure upgrades.
  • Department of Energy (DOE): $15.6 billion in total funding. Within this total funding, the bill provides $12.8 billion for Office of Science laboratory construction, facilities, and infrastructure as well as research-and-development efforts.
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA): The bill provides $1.2 billion for climate research and forecasting to increase our understanding and predictive forecasting capabilities of weather and climate phenomena, including hurricanes, tornadoes, drought, wildland fires, as well as extreme precipitation, extreme heat and flooding.
  • National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST): $4.2 billion in total funding. The bill provides $1.2 billion for research in areas such as artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, quantum computing, biotechnology, advanced manufacturing, and resiliency to wildfires and climate change. NIST would also receive an additional $1 billion to construct new research facilities and renovate or maintain existing ones, and another $2 billion to support U.S. manufacturing activities.
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA): The bill would provide $4.4 billion for NASA, with most of it dedicated to repair and modernization of the agency’s physical infrastructure and facilities.
  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): The bill provides $264 million for climate change R&D on mitigation of climate forcing emissions, adaptation to reduce the impacts of climate change, and approaches to build resilience to climate change.

House Committee on Energy and Commerce

  • Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H): The bill provides $3 billion to establish ARPA-H which seeks to make pivotal investments in high-risk, high-reward opportunities to drive biomedical research and technology innovations for patients. Even if ARPA-H may end up being a part of another legislative vehicle instead of the Build Back Better Act, I still wanted to convey my strong support for this effort to supplement the federal government’s on going investment in cutting edge biomedical research regardless of which bill it ultimately becomes a part.
  • Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA): $7 billion in total funding, including $500 million to support activities conducted by BARDA for advanced research, standards development, and domestic manufacturing capacity for diagnostics, vaccines, therapeutics, and PPE; and $500 million to support increased biosafety and biosecurity in research on infectious diseases, including facilities modernization and improvements.

House Committee on Agriculture

  • Department of Agriculture: $89 billion in total funding. The bill provides $500 million over five years for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) which supports research to ensure food safety and security and mitigate the impacts of climate variability on global agriculture. Additionally, the Committee has provided $380 million for the newly authorized Agriculture Advanced Research and Development Authority (AGARDA), designed to develop and deploy new agricultural technologies. 
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