Scientists Are Urging Candidates to Discuss Medical Progress


With the Presidential race narrowing and congressional races heating up, issues surrounding the health of Americans will likely come to the forefront. Scientists committed to reducing the burden of disease and finding cures are speaking up and urging all candidates to share their plans to advance medical progress. Public policies in support of medical innovation are increasingly important to address health threats that claim millions of lives and disrupt our economy. If elected, will candidates ensure increased funding for medical research is among their top priorities?  Will they remove barriers to private sector innovation? As part of our national voter education initiative, Campaign for Cures, scientists from Research!America member organizations recorded videos describing their research and the ways in which it could improve health and the economy. University of Nebraska Medical Center’s Dr. Howard Fox, Institute for Systems Biology’s Dr. Leroy Hood scientists, and Northeast Ohio Medical University’s Dr. Jason Richardson are among those who urged candidates to make research a higher national priority in video messages. “Funding for biomedical research has been a crucial part, not only in our ability to treat diseases but in our national economy with new companies, jobs and new ways to treat or analyze diseases for the betterment of Americans,” said Dr. Fox. 

As scientists race to find new therapies and cures for serious conditions such as cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and the Zika virus, it’s paramount that candidates understand the value of research. In a survey commissioned by Research!America, a majority of Americans (87%) said that candidates running for national office should have a basic understanding of science. Yet medical research has not been a major topic of discussion on the campaign trail across the political spectrum. Voters want to know how candidates will fight to protect their health and save lives. Other countries are ramping up their R&D infrastructure, putting U.S. dominance in research at risk. “Currently we are hanging on a thread in leading the world in science and technology. If something is not done, we are going to lose this in the next 10 to 20 years and it’s probably something that is not recoverable,” said Dr. Richardson.

Scientists know we cannot be complacent.  Much more needs to be done to find solutions to complex diseases. “I think there has never in the world of science been a more exciting time than we have today. Our ability to transform many major fields lies at our finger tips,” said Dr. Hood. With precision medicine leading to individualized treatments for patients, scientists and voters want candidates to commit to medical innovation. All videos can be viewed here on our Campaign for Cures video page. 

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Without continued support for health research, many of the most promising young scientists, their ideas and a myriad of potentially life-changing scientific breakthroughs will vanish into oblivion.
Paul Marinec, PhD; University of California San Francisco