SPOTLIGHT ON ATS COMMITTEES: Research Advocacy Committee
Augustine Choi, MD
Augustine Choi, MD, chair of the ATS Research Advocacy Committee, talks about what he and his fellow members are doing to advance the Society’s mission of improving patient care through research for those who suffer from lung diseases, critical illnesses and sleep disorders.
Q. What is the genesis of your committee? When was it established? And what is its charge?A. The Research Advocacy Committee was established in 1995 following the efforts of James Crapo, MD. to expand and improve ATS member advocacy to support research funding, specifically in support of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Q. Would you say your committee’s focus has changed in the last several years?
A. The central focus of the committee remains supporting research funding and direct committee advocacy with Congress and the administration, including through the committee’s annual Lobby Day in Washington. That said, however, the committee’s activities have expanded into several areas over the last few years. One major additional focus is now on supporting the Veterans Affairs research program through a VA subcommittee. Another is developing recommendations for the ATS leadership on collaborations and research initiatives with NIH institutes, including the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, National Institute of General Medicine Science and National Cancer Institute. Finally, ATS President Nicholas Hill, MD, has asked the committee to work with the ATS Scientific Advisory Committee and the Foundation to generate more ATS member support from industry and private sources.
Q. What would you count as your major accomplishments to date?
A. Recently, the committee drafted comments for the ATS on revisions to human subject research protections, known as the Common Rule. This was an important opportunity for the Society to make recommendations on how to improve the mechanisms for calculating patient risk in research, ways to simplify the informed consent process for both patients and investigators and improve the IRB review process for multi-site studies. The committee also recently prepared comments for the ATS on patient-centered outcomes research.
Q. As an expert in lung pathogenesis and vascular tissue injury and repair, how is the perspective you bring to the table unique?
A. As someone with expertise in lung pathogenesis and lung/vascular tissue injury and repair, I understand the major elements of lung biology that need attention in regards to research and advocacy. In addition, I collaborate with many colleagues who have wide-ranging expertise in areas outside of my own specialty, which enables me to represent the broader interests of ATS members at large.
Q. Is the make-up of your committee representative of the Society’s membership at large or does it represent a “subset” of ATS members?
A. Although the ATS is a diverse organization representing pulmonary, critical care and sleep clinicians and researchers from all around the world, strong support and advocacy for biomedical research cuts across each of these disciplines and emerges as a top priority for all ATS members. Committee members represent each of these areas and with nearly 20 members on the committee, I would say that we also represent the Society’s membership at large.
Q. What other projects are in the works?
A. Perhaps the most important activity for the committee every year is the annual Lobby Day. Each year, committee members travel to Washington, D.C., to meet with members of Congress and advocate for increased NIH, CDC and VA research program funding. Along with the Society’s larger ATS Lobby Day that follows our efforts, the committee’s presence on Capitol Hill communicates directly to Congress the ATS’s message of the importance of expanding research on respiratory diseases, critical illnesses and sleep disorders. By educating members of Congress on the advancements that have been made and the great potential there is for further progress in diagnosing, treating and preventing these diseases, the committee strives to improve outcomes for the millions of patients.
Q. Do you see many opportunities for collaboration with other ATS committees?
A. Yes, we are already collaborating with the Scientific Advisory Committee and the ATS Foundation on our benchmark to seek industry and private support for ATS member research. I hope to collaborate with the other committees that work on advocacy, including the Health Policy and Environmental Health Policy Committees. With the deficit reduction efforts ongoing in Congress, it is critical that we all work together to protect research funding made available by agencies like the NIH, CDC and VA, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency.
Meet the Members of the ATS Research Advocacy Committee
Augustine M. Choi, MD (chair)
Eric J. Adkins, MD
Veena B. Antony, MD
Rajesh Bhagat, MD
James K. Brown, MD
Shannon S. Carson, MD
Carol Feghali-Bostwick, PhD
Nicholas S. Hill, MD
Naftali Kaminski, MD
James R. Klinger, MD
Julie G. Ledford, PhD
Janet Lee, MD
Roberto F. Machado, MD
Nuala Moore, staff
Linda Nici, MD
Marc Peters-Golden, MD
Ioana R. Preston, MD
Dean E. Schraufnagel, MD, (ex-officio)
Gerald S. Supinski, MD
Elizabeth M. Wagner, PhD