ICYMI – A great Congressional Briefing!

On Wednesday June 28 we held a Congressional Lunch Briefing in D.C. and it was a great success!

In the past, the AMS has held one Congressional Briefing each year, typically during the week or two following Thanksgiving. This was our first joint briefing in partnership with MSRI, and we look forward to continuing this partnership. We plan to hold two each year.

What is this beast – a “Congressional Lunch Briefing”? To give you a mental image, we had a room in the Russell Senate building with round tables and boxed lunches. The room was packed and in fact overflowing, and the atmosphere was friendly and welcoming. Attendees were from sister scientific societies, local universities, federal agencies, and included Congressional members and their staff.Nancy Pelosi I began by welcoming all in the room, then David Eisenbud (Director of MSRI) Schumergave some more opening remarks and introduced Representative Nancy Pelosi, who gave enthusiastic support for our work in the mathematical sciences. Then, David Eisenbud introduced our speaker David Donoho, Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor of Humanities and Sciences and Professor of Statistics at Stanford University. The session included an engaging Q&A period, and concluded with remarks from Senator Charles Schumer.

Professor David Donoho used his time to explain how federally funded mathematical research transitioned in just 10 years from ‘brainiac’ math journals to FDA approved medical devices. His Stanford patents on compressed sensing are licensed by both GE and DDSiemens in their new generation FDA-approved scanners. The improved technology will save lives, reach new demographic groups, and increase productivity in the use of healthcare resources.

The new technology is a game changer for medical care in at least three ways:

  1. It decreases cost, allowing health care providers to deliver the same service to more patients in the same amount of time.
  2. New populations can receive services. Children can now undergo MR imaging without sedation; they need to sit still for 1 minute rather than 10 minutes.
  3. It saves lives. Neurosurgeons can plan their surgeries and understand in advance what they will see three dimensionally inside someone’s head. Cardiologists can see in detail the motions of muscle tissue in the beating heart.

Tens of millions of MRI scans annually can soon be sped up dramatically; recent FDA approvals allow 8x speedups in 3D imaging and 16x speedups in dynamic heart imaging. Diagnostic imaging costs US$100 billion yearly and MR imaging makes up a big share of that.NSF folks

The United States has historically been held in high esteem for its investment in science and how it has improved lives and added efficiencies. Our nation cannot continue to be the world leader in scientific progress without increased and sustained support from Congress. Professor Donoho’s talk gave a great example of how our federal investment in basic science research pays off for American taxpayers.

Our next briefing will take place in late November or early December. If you live in the area and would like to be on our mailing list, contact Anita Benjamin at alb@ams.org

Photos by Scavone Photography

About Karen Saxe

Karen Saxe is Director of the AMS Office of Government Relations which works to connect the mathematics community with Washington decision-makers who affect mathematics research and education. Over many years she has contributed much time to the AMS, MAA, and AWM, including service as vice president of the MAA and in policy and advocacy work with all three. She was the 2013-2014 AMS Congressional Fellow, working for Senator Al Franken on education issues, with focus on higher education and STEM education. In Minnesota she has served on the Citizens Redistricting Commission following the 2010 census and serves on the Common Cause Minnesota Redistricting Leadership Circle. She has three children and, when not at work especially enjoys being with them and reading, hiking and sharing good food and wine and beer with family and friends.
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