Science Takes a Stand

In a recent op-ed to the Washington Post, Congressman Jim Cooper (D-TN) and American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) CEO and Dana Alliance member Alan I. Leshner discuss the importance of federal investment in basic scientific research.

They also express disappointment in policymakers who dismiss and at times mock research topics without putting in the time to understand their potential contributions to society.

The United States may now risk falling behind in scientific discoveries as other countries increase their science funding. We need to get serious about science. In fact, maybe it’s time for researchers to fight back, to return a comeback for every punch line.

To “fight back,” Rep. Cooper, two of his congressional colleagues, and several science associations launched the Golden Goose Awards. According to the website, these awards will “demonstrate the human and economic benefits of federally funded research by highlighting examples of seemingly obscure studies that have led to major breakthroughs and resulted in significant societal impact.” Winners will be announced three to four times per year.

Because of the evolving nature of scientific research, educating policymakers on its importance is an ongoing process. For example, since 2010, the Dana Foundation has funded a grant to AAAS for a series of briefings designed to educate Congressional members and their staffs about topical issues in neuroscience. Two briefings were held earlier this summer, looking at links between poverty and brain-development and mental illness in young adults. A third, on early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, will be held tomorrow.

–Ann L. Whitman

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