Among AIMBE’s most important roles is the promotion of public policies that foster continued advancement in medical and biological engineering (MBE). We educate and influence public officials, regulators, the media and general public about the positive impact MBE has on virtually every sector of society – from human health to a vibrant economy. AIMBE advocates for legislative, monetary and regulatory solutions that assistant our engineering community at each stage of the innovation ecosystem – from the research lab to the bedside of a patient.
As a member of the Congressional R&D Caucus Advisory Committee, AIMBE informs Congress and the public on important national and global issues regarding research and development in medical and biological engineering. In this role, AIMBE helps to bring important issues to the attention of Congress by shaping briefings and hearings for Members and their staff. AIMBE increases awareness and advocates for the benefit of federally-funded scientific research to society. Through this work, AIMBE highlights the following issues:
- The economic, societal, and security benefit derived from federal R&D investment.
- Technological innovations that have resulted from federal investment in R&D
- The importance of a balanced R&D portfolio, with appropriate distribution of resources between the physical, engineering, and health sciences.
- Yearly trends in R&D budget numbers.
Additionally, AIMBE supports:
- The work of existing congressional Committees and members of Congress with jurisdiction over the National Science Foundation, DOE, EPA, Department of Defense, Department of Commerce, National Institutes of Heath and other agencies supporting research and development efforts.
- Federal agencies that support research and development efforts.
- Federal policies that foster and encourage research and development in the private sector of our economy.
AIMBE, in partnership with the Academy of Radiology Research, provided Congressional staff with their first look inside the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Nearly 50 legislative aids to Members of Congress witnessed cutting-edge bioengineering technologies first-hand at the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) – the largest Congressional event the NIH has seen to date!
The mission of NIBIB is to improve health by leading the development and accelerating the application of biomedical technologies. The Institute is committed to integrating the physical and engineering sciences with the life sciences to advance basic research and medical care.
By organizing a tour of NIBIB for Congressional staff, AIMBE educates and informs policy makers about the importance of federal funding for biomedical innovation in tackling society’s grand challenges.
The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program and the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program are powerful engines for innovation and job growth. Created in the early 1980’s, these programs began to award federal research grants to the country’s best innovators — small businesses.
AIMBE has been a staunch supporter of the SBIR/STTR programs from their inceptions. In an effort to help improve the program, AIMBE convened a select committee of Fellows to develop a report of common sense, practical solutions. The full report can be found below, but a highlight of their recommendations is to:
- Ensure that enough safeguards are put in place to prohibit grants from going to foreign owned companies by stating the number of foreign investors and the individual amounts of their equity in the business. This will ensure research is predominantly performed in the US, thus spurring local innovation and job growth.
- Dramatically reduce the time for the National Institute of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) to make grant award decisions, from 12 to 15 months to 90 to 180 days. NSF and NIH are the only agencies who are allowed longer than the 90 to 180 timeline that all other federal agencies abide, which deters small business from applying.
- Prevent fraud, waste and abuse by allowing program administrators more flexibility in reviewing grants as well as implementing stricter procedures. This will prohibit “SBIR Mills” – businesses that receive grants year after year without ever producing products – from being selected.
AIMBE is again highly supportive of the SBIR and STTR programs, and submitted this report to augment their ability to help small businesses across the nation create jobs, springboard ideas and spur economic growth.
AIMBE was one of the first organizations to partner with the Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH) at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to sign a Network of Experts Agreement.
The CDRH is responsible for regulating firms who manufacture, repackage, relabel, and/or import medical devices sold in the United States. In order to better meet this responsibility, the CDRH identified a need for additional medical and engineering expertise from the broader scientific and engineering community to enhance the knowledge base of their own staff. Through the Network of Experts Agreement, AIMBE’s College of Fellows—around 1000 innovators and pioneers from the medical and biological engineering community—will be called to provide scientific and engineering knowledge to the CDRH at the FDA’s discretion. This will provide the FDA with access to leading engineers in new and emerging technologies in bioengineering to better fulfill their mission.
By partnering with the CDRH, AIMBE is committing to providing access to the College of Fellows whenever an expert is needed. Through this collaboration, AIMBE continues to demonstrate its role as a major thought-leader in medical and biological engineering.
Jeffrey Shuren, M.D., J.D., director of the Center for Devices and Radiological released this statement: “Rapid access to the expertise of AIMBE’s distinguished College of Fellows will help to broaden CDRH’s scientific viewpoints and assure that we consider the most current information on emerging fields of science and pioneering biomedical technologies related to medical devices.”
AIMBE is proud to be providing access to our College of Fellows, comprised of the most cutting-edge and pioneering leaders of biomedical engineering, to the CDRH at the FDA. Our mission includes building strong relationships with government agencies in order to advance the potential for medical and biological engineering to improve our quality of life, and this Network of Experts Agreement contributes greatly to that goal. We consider this a new opportunity for public service leveraging the considerable scientific and medical knowledge of AIMBE Fellows to benefit all Americans.
Each year during AIMBE’s Annual Event Fellows across the country travel to Washington, DC to meet with their Representatives and Senators to advocate the positive impact medical and biological engineering has on society. Each Fellow relays their personal experience, whether in the lab, classroom or boardroom of how biomedical engineers are not only creating jobs, but a higher quality of life for all Americans.
Bringing with them medical devices and technologies, Fellows illustrated how federal investment in bioengineering research and development translates ideas from the lab bench to the bedside of patients. Even in these fiscally constrained times, there is a direct need for sustained investment in federal R&D, as slashed funding risks forfeiting America’s leadership in the biotechnology industry to Europe or China. In addition, AIMBE Fellows conveyed the reality that erratic and slashed funding impedes the innovation pipeline, as universities and businesses lose the researchers and the brain power vital to the process of product development. At a time when health care costs continue to soar and manufacturing is shipped overseas, biomedical engineers are the entrepreneurs and innovators who are developing the products that lower health costs and are produced right here in the United States.
By visiting one-on-one, AIMBE Fellows make a powerful statement to our policy makers in Washington how medical and biological engineers are fostering healthy lives, a health economy and a healthy world.