By Georges C. Benjamin, MD, executive director, American Public Health Association and Research!America board member
This year’s Nobel Prize winners in medicine and chemistry remind us of the enormous value of our nation’s investment in research. While these honors reflect prestigious peer recognition for the scientists who receive them, they are really much more. The prize represents a celebration of the enormous progress these avenues of research have had to improve the human condition. We are often asked why we use taxpayer dollars to fund research and what the return on this investment is. Well, a look at this year’s winners shows us in stark terms why our federal investment is a best buy for the American taxpayer.
The work of Drs. James Allison and Tasuku Honjo expands our understanding of our immune systems helping us harness that power in new and interesting ways to both protect normal cells while improving the targeting of cancerous ones. This is the essence of precision medicine at the molecular level that will benefit populations from both over treatment and under treatment.
Nobel Prize in Chemistry winners Dr. Frances Arnold and Dr. George Smith and Sir Gregory Winter were recognized for their work on antibodies and enzymes that is charting new and interesting pathways to address diseases at the molecular level and in the manufacture of renewable fuels, an essential strategy to reverse the threat of a warming planet.
We celebrate this year’s winners supported by our investment in research for creating new tools for our medical and environmental toolshed.