FASEB, the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology runs an annual Stand Up For Science competition, and in 2013, the goal was to increase awareness of the value of US federal funding for biological and biomedical research.
The winning video is below, and it makes a compelling argument for the funding of basic science. So much of the science funding mindset has seemingly been influenced by Wall Street’s “get rich quick” ethos. Businesses have been encouraged to forsake long term health and success in order to maximize this quarter’s profits to drive the stock price higher. Forget about the future, what about next week?
Similarly, science funding has increasingly moved toward requiring instant gratification, proof of immediate societal impact (and often financial impact), rather than planning for the long term. Much of what we are profiting from as a society now stems from the basic research funded over the last few decades. Shortsighted approaches reduce our investment in the future, and we run the risk of having our cupboards run dry down the line.
The hypothetical question posed in this video: It’s 1960, and you have $10 to spend on research. Would you spend it on:
- Developing an affordable treatment for diabetes
- Conducting basic research on how bacteria protect themselves
The right answer may surprise you.