A report being released today by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology examines the lost opportunities for science and for U.S. competitiveness vs. other nations due to inadequate federal support for basic research. "The Future Postponed: Why Declining Investment in Basic Research Threatens a U.S. Innovation Deficit" explores a range of scientific issues and illustrates how funding has become more difficult to find.
"Basic research is often misunderstood, because it often seems to have no immediate payoff. Yet it was just such federally funded research into the fundamental working of cells, intensified beginning with the 'War on Cancer' in 1971, that led over time to a growing arsenal of sophisticated new anticancer therapies -- 19 new drugs approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in the past two years. Do we want similar progress on Alzheimer’s, which already affects five million Americans, more than any single form of cancer? Then we should expand research in neurobiology, brain chemistry and the science of aging," the report says. "The Ebola epidemic in West Africa is a reminder of how vulnerable we are to a wider pandemic of emergent viral diseases, because of a lack of research on their biology; an even greater public health threat looms from the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria right here at home, which, because commercial incentives are lacking, only expanded university-based research into new types of antibiotics can address."
The report is available here.