From September 8-11, Research!America virtually hosted the 2020 National Health Research Forum, an annual meeting bringing together leaders in the research community, federal agency officials, and national media to highlight current trends in health research and the effect of those trends on public policy decisions. This year’s theme was Straight Talk: Securing a Science-Strong Future, which was stated to be a focus on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on multiple facets of the U.S. research enterprise. The virtual event featured appearances from several high level government officials including the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar, Director of the National Institutes of Health Francis Collins, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Anthony Fauci, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Robert Redfield, Congresswoman Diana DeGette (D-CO), Congressman Fred Upton (R-MI), and many others.
The speakers and panel discussions covered a wide swath of research related issues, including issues such as diversity and inclusion in research, equity in healthcare, the sustainability of the research enterprise, public confidence and behavior towards a COVID-19 vaccine, and the timeline for developing a COVID-19 vaccine or vaccines. Social and behavioral science was highlighted in several of the sessions, including those discussing public opinion of science and research, methods to increase compliance in COVID-19 prevention techniques, and in modeling behavior regarding flu vaccinations during a pandemic. In a notable segment, Dr. Fauci asserted during his speaking segment that he was confident for a vaccine to be ready by the end of 2020, but likely not before the November 3rd election. More information about the forum is available on the Research!America website.