Letters to the Editor

Biomedical Research: 'One of America's Great Success Stories'

February 14, 2012

To the Editor:

After reading "Obama Highlights Education's Role in Reaching National Policy Goals" (The Chronicle, January 25), I would like to reinforce the notion that biomedical research at America's academic medical centers represent dollars well spent.

"Innovation also demands basic research. Today, the discoveries taking place in our federally financed labs and universities could lead to new treatments that kill cancer cells but leave healthy ones untouched ... Don't gut these investments in our budget. Don't let other countries win the race for the future," President Obama said in his State of the Union address last month.

His plea, and his vision, is echoed in a new report by the Association of American Medical Colleges that said for every federal dollar invested in research at American medical schools and teaching hospitals, $2.60 of economic activity occurred. The report found that federal- and state-funded research received by AAMC-member medical schools and teaching hospitals added close to $45-billion to the U.S. economy in 2009, the latest year for which figures are available.

These figures don't include the other intangibles—immeasurable advances in health care from medical research, the training of the next generation of physicians and researchers, the creation of intellectual property and the enormous commercial application of medical research, as well as the continued contributions to our nation's global competitiveness.

Let's honor the people's money by ensuring that we maintain funds for biomedical research, which will harness our full scientific and medical potential.

Biomedical research is one of America's great success stories, and the well-being of our children and their children depends on it.

We want, and need, to keep our economy vital, and we, as a nation, must continue to invest in the medical mission that improves our lives, and benefits all of us in very real—and lasting—ways.

Howard J. Federoff
Executive Vice President for Health Sciences
Georgetown University Medical Center
Executive Dean
Georgetown University School of Medicine