Laboratory Tours for Legislative Representatives and Other Funders
Overview of Program
With fewer dollars available for musculoskeletal research funding, it is increasingly important to demonstrate the critical nature of your research to funders. Inviting your Legislative Representatives or other funders to your laboratory for a firsthand experience of your research is an excellent way to show your funding dollars at work.
Orthopaedic research is a very cost-effective financial investment, particularly for legislators who are concerned about the escalating costs of entitlement programs, e.g, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Medicare. For example, an individual unable to work due to a nonunion receives a novel biologic agent that stimulates bone growth. The nonunion heals and that patient returns to work, no longer requiring SSDI and Medicare.
Annual costs for bone and joint health are 7.7% of the gross domestic product ($849 billion dollars) while research is less than 2% of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) budget. More than 25% of Americans have a musculoskeletal condition requiring medical attention. That number is expected to soar in the United States in the next 10 to 20 years with an aging baby boomer population, an epidemic of morbid obesity and sedentary lifestyles.
Telling Your Research Story
If your lab is conducting research that may not affect a patient for many years, you can still illustrate the eventual impact your work will have. Some of the most profound changes in orthopaedics have taken a long time to come to fruition.
The best way to illustrate the impact of your research is to relate your research story to your legislator. How is the patient treated today? How will that patient be treated when your research is completed? How will your research change or even revolutionize the treatment paradigm?
Consider inviting a patient or several patients with the condition or disease you are working to treat or resolve. Patients can be powerful allies in your efforts to tell your research story. They can explain their disease or condition and their current treatment options. You and your staff can then show your legislator the transformative effect of your research on patients’ future treatment options.
The lab tour combined with the patients’ experiences can illustrate the critical nature of your work and the absolute necessity of a reliable funding stream. Throughout your tour, remember to relate every aspect back to the final patient outcomes you plan to achieve. Tell your research story.
The Burden of Musculoskeletal Diseases in the United States. http://www.boneandjointburden.org