Researchers Win ‘Golden Goose Awards’ for Seemingly Obscure but Useful Work

Rep. Jim Cooper, a Democrat of Tennessee, and Alan I. Leshner, chief executive of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, on Sunday announced the winners of the first Golden Goose Awards in an op-ed for The Washington Post. The awards, bestowed for the first time this year, are meant to recognize the value of federally supported research projects that may have once been viewed as obscure. They stand as a counterpoint to the Golden Fleece Awards, created in 1975 by Sen. William Proxmire to ridicule the wasteful spending of tax dollars. The recipients will be honored at a ceremony in Washington this week.

The awards recognize Osamu Shimomura of the Marine Biological Laboratory, in Woods Hole, Mass., and the Boston University Medical School; Martin Chalfie of Columbia University; and Roger Y. Tsien of the University of California at San Diego. Their discovery of a protein in glowing jellyfish led to numerous medical advances and was awarded the 2008 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

Also receiving awards are Charles H. Townes, a 1964 recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physics, whose work led to the development of laser technology, and Eugene White, Rodney White, Della Roy, and the late Jon Weber, who developed bone-graft material by studying the structure of tropical coral.

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