David Phipps, our Canadian wrassler at the recently completed NCHCMM in Atlanta, made brief mention at the end of our panel discussion of his idea for a re-imagined Bayh-Dole Act for social sciences knowledge translation. Before the conference, he blogged about it here.
In the near future, we’ll be getting David and Pimjai Sudsawad, our other panelist, back together for a podcast on this topic. In the meantime, David has blogged further about his idea here, and I wanted to comment on a specific point.
David mentioned that his closing point on the panel presentation was, “Develop an engaged community sector and elect a government that will listen.” Here’s the thing: In 1980, when the original Bayh-Dole Act was ratified, both houses of Congress and the White House were held by Democrats. Further, the atmosphere in Congress was substantially different, and bipartisanship on contentious issues was less of a foreign concept.
Now, to be clear, as some liberal bloggers have pointed out, when it comes to preserving and extending the status quo, today’s Washington political class is firmly, monolithically bipartisan. But on contentious social issues, it suits the theatrical requirements of Washington to divide along partisan lines. And believe me, federal government involvement in social sciences and health research at the university and foundation level represents a contentious issue, ripe for theatrical posturing. Behind the scenes, however, the National Institutes for Health, the Centers for Disease Control, the National Science Foundation, and many more government agencies go right on conducting their research business, albeit without really talking to each other.
The question I pose is, absent any support from the political class, what is the mechanism for stimulating a conversation amongst these busy agency players about the importance of knowledge translation to furthering research? What do you think?