Lamar Smith

Dear Research Advocate: Every seat was taken in the main Carnegie Institution auditorium, and in a large overflow room as well, for a presentation on CRISPR genome editing delivered by Dr. Jennifer Doudna of UC Berkeley. The Monday evening program, which has open to the public, was co-sponsored by the Carnegie Institution for Science, the Council of Scientific Society Presidents and the Kavli Foundation. In addition to explaining how CRISPR-Cas9 is revolutionizing the ‘software’ of biology, Doudna reflected on ethical issues including the conduct of human germline research. In doing so she echoed one of the obstacles to advancing science listed in a slide deck presented by White House...
Dear Research Advocate: What does the current political impasse in Washington have in common with deadly or disabling diseases? They will not cure themselves, and the harm escalates until the “patient” gets expert treatment. There is no place for miracle cures or wishful thinking. The solution isn’€™t what a given individual or party wants it to be, it’€™s what solves the problem. Right now, it’€™s by no means clear what or who will solve the problems ’€” which now include the debt ceiling as well as the lack of funding to run the government. Fasten your seat belts for more turbulence between now and October 17th. You may have heard that the House passed a bill yesterday to fund NIH, along...
Dear Research Advocate: What does the current political impasse in Washington have in common with deadly or disabling diseases? They will not cure themselves, and the harm escalates until the “patient” gets expert treatment. There is no place for miracle cures or wishful thinking. The solution isn’€™t what a given individual or party wants it to be, it’€™s what solves the problem. Right now, it’€™s by no means clear what or who will solve the problems ’€” which now include the debt ceiling as well as the lack of funding to run the government. Fasten your seat belts for more turbulence between now and October 17th. You may have heard that the House passed a bill yesterday to fund NIH, along...
Dear Research Advocate, “2013 is a bad year to have a good idea,” was the bleak statement Laura Niedernhofer, MD, PhD, made about the impact of sequestration in a recent FASEB report . None of us want this year, or this country, to be a bad starting point for good ideas ’€¦ but that’s what’s at stake. Think about telling someone with a serious illness that this isn’t a good year, or a good decade, for research. Think about telling them that from here on out, it may always be a bad year for a good idea. Is there hope for turning this around? We have bipartisan support and we have champions; that we need more is a reality, but by no means an impossibility. Cancer research advocates gathered...
Dear Research Advocate, House of Representatives Science Committee Chair Lamar Smith’€™s (R-TX) proposed legislation, the “ High Quality Research Act ,” would undermine, rather than achieve, “high quality” in research, since it would create several new hoops for approval of NSF-funded grants. These appear to be based on the mistaken idea that science follows a linear path to a single metric for success or failure. And the bill requires the NSF director to attest in advance to the success of each funded proposal! Letters penned by former NSF directors and National Science Board chairs and former NSF assistant directors warn of the “chilling and detrimental impact” this legislation could have...
Dear Research Advocate, President Obama spoke to the National Academies of Science on Monday. I commend his remarks to you. He charged the members of the Academy, and by extension the science community writ large, to engage at ’€œthe center and the heart of our public debate.’€ He said that IF scientists do so, the nation will be assured of continued prominence. IF is a tall order — it makes most scientists very uncomfortable, but it is essential that we get out of our comfort zone right now. The president didn’€™t pound his fist on the podium in stressing this, so I will. The science community simply cannot step away from the public and political fray right now; not if we want to see the...

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