Posts Tagged ‘National Academies’

George Will Goes to Bat for Research Investment

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011

Conservative columnist George F. Will, in his Sunday column, warned new Members of Congress – some elected on the promise to cut federal spending – that slashing federal spending for research will leave the U.S. worse off in the future.

In Will’s words:

Republicans are rightly determined to be economizers. They must, however, make distinctions. Congressional conservatives can demonstrate that skill by defending research spending that sustains collaboration among complex institutions – corporations’ research entities and research universities. Research, including in the biological sciences, that yields epoch-making advances requires time horizons that often are impossible for businesses, with their inescapable attention to quarterly results.

An iconic conservative understood this. Margaret Thatcher, who studied chemistry as an Oxford undergraduate, said:

“Although basic science can have colossal economic rewards, they are totally unpredictable. And therefore the rewards cannot be judged by immediate results. Nevertheless, the value of [Michael] Faraday’s work today must be higher than the capitalization of all shares on the stock exchange.”

Will also cites America’s low rank – 27th – among granting undergraduate degrees in science or engineering. Moreover, he includes this stunning statistic: “Annual federal spending on mathematics, the physical sciences and engineering now equals only the increase in health-care costs every nine weeks.”

He also mentions the concerns laid out by the National Academies’ Gathering Storm report, updated in 2010. His final cautionary note comes from Japan, which, he says, has failed to innovate; cuts in federal research spending could lead to the same result for the U.S.

The Institute of Medicine To Release Report on Obesity Prevention

Thursday, April 15th, 2010

On Friday, April 23, 2010, The Institute of Medicine will release a report on “Bridging the Evidence Gap in Obesity Prevention: A Framework to Inform Decision Making.” The report was funded by Kaiser Permanente, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and will help decision makers when they are deciding what course of action to take when addressing obesity and other public health issues. This report shows the value and the potential positive outcomes from actions taken to combat an environment that supports obesity.

Report committee members who will be taking part in this briefing include:

SHIRIKI KUMANYIKA (committee chair), professor of Epidemiology, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

CHRISTINA ECONOMOS, new balance chair, Childhood Nutrition, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Tufts University, Boston, MA

LAWRENCE W. GREEN, professor, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of California–San Francisco

ROBERT A. HIATT, professor and co-chair of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Deputy Director, Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of California–San Francisco

ADOLFO M. VALADEZ, assistant commissioner, Division of Prevention and Preparedness Services, Texas Department of State Health Services, Austin

RSVP by Thursday, April 22. You will then receive the dial in number and access to report materials by the time of the release.

For questions call (202) 334-2033 or email Matthew B. Spear at

Obama Speaks to National Academy of Sciences

Monday, April 27th, 2009

President Obama addressed the National Academy of Sciences meeting today in Washington. Some highlights, from the remarks available at

At such a difficult moment, there are those who say we cannot afford to invest in science. That support for research is somehow a luxury at a moment defined by necessities. I fundamentally disagree. Science is more essential for our prosperity, our security, our health, our environment, and our quality of life than it has ever been. And if there was ever a day that reminded us of our shared stake in science and research, it’s today.

I believe it is not in our American character to follow – but to lead. And it is time for us to lead once again. I am here today to set this goal: we will devote more than three percent of our GDP to research and development. We will not just meet, but we will exceed the level achieved at the height of the Space Race, through policies that invest in basic and applied research, create new incentives for private innovation, promote breakthroughs in energy and medicine, and improve education in math and science. This represents the largest commitment to scientific research and innovation in American history.

As Vannevar Bush, who served as scientific adviser to President Franklin Roosevelt, famously said: “Basic scientific research is scientific capital.”

The fact is, an investigation into a particular physical, chemical, or biological process might not pay off for a year, or a decade, or at all. And when it does, the rewards are often broadly shared, enjoyed by those who bore its costs but also by those who did not.

[We] know that a nation’s potential for scientific discovery is defined by the tools it makes available to its researchers.

Under my administration, the days of science taking a back seat to ideology are over. Our progress as a nation – and our values as a nation – are rooted in free and open inquiry. To undermine scientific integrity is to undermine our democracy.

That is why I have charged the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy with leading a new effort to ensure that federal policies are based on the best and most unbiased scientific information. I want to be sure that facts are driving scientific decisions – and not the other way around.

As part of this effort, we’ve already launched a website that allows individuals to not only make recommendations to achieve this goal, but to collaborate on those recommendations; it is a small step, but one that is creating a more transparent, participatory and democratic government.

Yes, scientific innovation offers us the chance to achieve prosperity. It has offered us benefits that have improved our health and our lives – often improvements we take too easily for granted. But it also gives us something more.

At root, science forces us to reckon with the truth as best as we can ascertain it. Some truths fill us with awe. Others force us to question long held views. Science cannot answer every question; indeed, it seems at times the more we plumb the mysteries of the physical world, the more humble we must be. Science cannot supplant our ethics, our values, our principles, or our faith, but science can inform those things, and help put these values, these moral sentiments, that faith, to work – to feed a child, to heal the sick, to be good stewards of this earth.

We are reminded that with each new discovery and the new power it brings, comes new responsibility; that the fragility and the sheer specialness of life requires us to move past our differences, to address our common problems, to endure and continue humanity’s strivings for a better world.

As President Kennedy said when he addressed the National Academy of Sciences more than 45 years ago: “The challenge, in short, may be our salvation.”

Download a podcast of President Obama speaking from the National Academies Web site.

National Academies: Science on the Campaign Trail

Monday, March 30th, 2009

Issues in Science and Technology, a journal published by the National Academies, recently published an editorial by Shawn Otto and Sheril Kirshenbaum, co-founders of ScienceDebate2008, about the history of the initiative. The editorial mentions the public opinion poll that Research!America conducted with ScienceDebate2008.

Probing further, the Science Debate team learned that science was seen as a niche topic by the campaigns, and a presidential debate dedicated to science policy issues such as climate change, innovation, research, health care, energy, ocean health, stem cells, and the like was viewed as requiring extensive preparation and posing high risk for a limited return.

Science Debate 2008 wanted to test this assumption, so it partnered with Research!America and hired Harris to conduct a national poll. The results were astounding: Fully 85% of U.S. adults said the presidential candidates should participate in a debate to discuss key policy problems facing the United States, such as health care, climate change, and energy, and how science can help tackle them. There was virtually no difference across party lines. Contrary to the candidates’ assumptions, science is of broad concern to the public.

Read the entire editorial here.

NYT: Thomas Friedman on U.S. Investment in Innovation

Monday, January 12th, 2009

While the title of this New York Times op-ed (”Tax Cuts for Teachers”) doesn’t seem on point, Thomas Friedman’s advice to President-elect Obama parallels many of the messages Research!America advocates have been talking about: the need to invest in research to not just jump start our economy but to set it up for long-term success.

[Here's] hoping that our new administration and Congress will be guided in shaping the stimulus by reading John Maynard Keynes in one hand — to get as much money injected as quickly as possible — and by reading “Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future” with the other.

Friedman quotes Obama that the economic recover package also “means investing in the science, research and technology that will lead to new medical breakthroughs, new discoveries and entire new industries.”

Contact your members of Congress, asking them to act on this advice and include $11.1 billion for health research in the economic stimulus package currently under consideration.

Research!America’s Chair Leads Development of National Academies Report

Wednesday, September 17th, 2008

Advising Presidential Candidates on Filling Key Science & Technology Posts

Research!America’s chair, The Honorable John Edward Porter, chaired a National Academies committee that issued a new report today—Science and Technology for America’s Progress: Ensuring the Best Presidential Appointments in the New Administration.

The report, sent to presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama, provides guidance on filling key science appointments after the election. The report urges members of the scientific community to serve in these positions and emphasizes the importance of research in solving many of our nation’s challenges, including economic ones.

The report is the latest in a series issued by the Academies on the presidential appointment process, each delivered during a presidential election year. Mr. Porter also chaired the committee’s 2004 report. Read the National Academies’ news release about the report.