In two recent publications, Tom Baldwin, PhD, President of FASEB, expressed his opinions about the nature of investigator-driven science and the importance of maintaining U.S. strength in scientific discovery.
In a letter published October 19 in Nature, Baldwin took issue with Daniel Sarewitz’s recent commentary in which he described research scientists as disconnected from the potential applications of their work. “The general research-funding system is clearly directed at societal needs,” Baldwin writes, further concluding that “The threat to US science does not come from scientists’ assumptions, their commitment to investigator-initiated research or the research community’s failure to tackle problems of public concern. It comes from an unrealistic system of draconian budget cuts that stifle investment in the future.”
In an October 16 opinion editorial published in Washington, DC’s The Hill, Baldwin makes the historical case for scientific research in the U.S., and the factors that contributed to its stunning success: investments in education and research, welcoming immigrant scientists, intellectual freedom, and a competitive funding system.
His call to action? “We need to make the 21st century investments in education and research that will ensure our ability to compete. Our doors must be open to the best scientists and the best minds, no matter where they originate. Scientists need the freedom to explore the most promising avenues of research, and we need to select the best ideas for funding based on merit. We call upon our leaders to make the decisions necessary to ensure we remain the world leader in discovery and innovation,” Baldwin concludes.