Research!America Chairman John Edward Porter, a former Republican congressman from Illinois, opened the event with a warning that the November elections represent "the most important elections for science" in decades.
"We need to overwhelm the policymakers, the members of Congress, with a message that this must be — for this country — the highest national priority and we can't allow our worldwide leadership to slip," Porter said. "It not only makes a difference for human beings in their health, it makes a difference for our economy, it makes a difference for our future, it makes a difference for our young people who are looking for careers in science. Never before have the chips been down like they are right now and the need for advocacy and engagement greater."
Last month, President Obama unveiled a proposed budget that keeps funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) flat at $31.7 billion.
Research!America President and CEO Mary Woolley criticized the budget at the time.
"We strongly believe a frozen budget for the National Institutes of Health will flat line medical breakthroughs in the coming years and stifle the business and job creation that begins with research and development," Wooley said in a statement. "Researchers will leave the field, potential breakthroughs will be shelved and new business opportunities grounded in medical discovery will evaporate as research institutions struggle with leaner budgets."