The 2014 Congressional August recess is one of the best times of the year to engage policymakers, and on August 7 and August 20, 2014, we did exactly that.


Senate chamber, circa 1873.

Senate chamber, circa 1873.

Historically, the Senate adjourned their session in the spring in order to avoid the sweltering summer heat. By 1970, year-long sessions became a regular occurrence; therefore, Congress mandated a summer break as part of the Legislative Reorganization Act. During this time, many Senators return to their home states in order to meet with constituents.(1)


In honor of the August recess, a group of seven current graduate students at the University of Kansas Medical Center participated in a nation-wide campaign to meet with members of Congress, specifically the offices of Kansas Senators Jerry Moran and Pat Roberts. Collectively our message was threefold:


  • To thank the Senators for their previous support of biomedical research

  • To ask the Senators to support consistent and reliable funding levels for NIH at a pace consistent with inflation.

  • To share our personal stories about the effect of sequestration and the looming uncertainty for our future careers.


We wanted to communicate our points of views as current trainees, and overall we did just that. These meetings were important not only to advocate for the future of biomedical research, but also for the future of scientists with their entire careers ahead of them. Our voices are particularly quiet compared to other noteworthy groups, and we appreciate the time these offices set aside from their busy schedules to meet with us.


Remember, our voices may be small, but if we’re not at the table, we won’t be heard at all.

We are grateful to the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology for making the arrangements and providing literature and training in preparation for these meetings.




Author: Angela N. Pierce, Society for Neuroscience Early Career Policy Fellow

Welcome back to the SFNKC SAP blog.


As you may or may not be aware, Congress is in recess for the month of August.  During this time, members of Congress will return to their home states or districts and participate in a number of events to directly reach their constituents.


One such opportunity is quickly approaching.  Representative Kevin Yoder (KS-03) will hold a town hall forum that will focus on federal funding for biomedical research.  Participants in the forum include Dr. Christopher Austin, M.D., Director, National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences of the National Institutes of Health, patient advocates, industry representatives, and medical centers.


As a town hall forum, audience members will have the opportunity to engage in the conversation.  If you can attend, I encourage you to do so.  Every voice can make an impact.


Link to town hall forum announcement



Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

10:00 AM – 11:00 AM



The KU Edwards Campus

Regnier Hall Auditorium

12610 Quivira Road

Overland Park, KS  66213



Author: Angela N. Pierce, Society for Neuroscience Early Career Policy Fellow


“I am a scientist, and I like science.  Does that make me an advocate?”


Hello again from the SFNKC science advocacy and policy (SAP) blog!   Today’s blog post is dedicated to answering the above question.  Scientists typically like science (note the good-natured humor) and therefore may assume that implies they are an advocate for science itself.  Well, science, like all branches of knowledge and art, is valued by society.  However, holding science in high esteem does not necessarily infer a position of advocacy.



This begs the question: what exactly are we advocating?


Check out the following definition –



An advocate speaks out, in a public arena, in support of a cause or policy.  Regarding biomedical science, the cause &/or policy is typically increased monetary support for investment, innovation, and structure for basic, translational, or clinical research.


While scientists are well-versed in communicating their research to an audience of their peers, advocating to a public audience requires additional, and perhaps unfamiliar, tools in the toolbox.   Luckily, there are resources aplenty by which these tools may be gathered.  So stay tuned to the SFNKC SAP blog for more information!


Author: Angela N. Pierce, Society for Neuroscience Early Career Policy Fellow

Looking ahead

July 18th, 2014

Welcome to the Society for Neuroscience Kansas City (SFNKC) Chapter website and blog!  SFNKC is a chapter organization of the Society for Neuroscience:


“The Society for Neuroscience is the world’s largest organization of scientists and physicians devoted to understanding the brain and nervous system. The nonprofit organization, founded in 1969, now has nearly 40,000 members in more than 90 countries and 130 chapters worldwide.”


Future entries in this blog will be dedicated to academic, professional and community activities undertaken by SFNKC.


In addition, you will be able read about issues related to scientific policy and advocacy.


Upcoming policy features include:

  1. What are the policies relevant to science?
  2. What does it mean to advocate rather than lobby?
  3. What are the avenues by which you can get involved?


To receive updates about new SFNKC events and blog posts, please follow us on twitter or like us on facebook.  If you would like to receive email updates, please send us an email at

The 2014 Brain Bee!

March 10th, 2014

Despite horrible weathr, the annual Kansas City Brain Bee, held on Feb. 1st this year at the University of Kansas Medical Center, was a great success. Ganesh Aruna took home the first prize. He will go on to participate in the National Brain Bee in Baltimore on March 14th.

Students preparing for the Bee.

Students preparing for the Bee.

Congratulations to all our winners, and thank you to everyone who participated!


March 10th, 2014

This is the inaugural post of the SFN KC Brain Blog!

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