Administrations May Change, But the Scientific Mission Should Not

By April 20, 2017Statement

By Rebecca Nebel, PhD, SWHR Scientific Programs Assistant Director and Natalia Gurevich, SWHR Communications Assistant

The scientific community will gather this Earth Day, April 22, to take a public stand “to defend the vital role science plays in health, safety, economies, and governments,” at a March for Science event taking place in more than 500 cities across the world.

As this march approaches, the Society for Women’s Health Research (SWHR®) recalls the scientific principle the organization is grounded upon: diversity in science. Everyone—regardless of gender, color, sexual orientation, or creed—deserves a voice in science and representation in research. For nearly 30 years, SWHR has tirelessly advocated for greater inclusion of women and minorities in medical research, more representation of women in STEM, increased funding for women’s health and sex differences research, and raised awareness of these needs to the public, researchers, and policymakers alike.

“We remain hopeful that the new administration and Congress will remove impediments that obstruct the scientific process, to allow for fully-funded, transparent scientific advancements that will undoubtedly improve the lives of everyone,” said Amy M. Miller, PhD, SWHR president and CEO.

However, SWHR is concerned about the potential impact of cutting federal spending for scientific research and the jobs they provide. Federal funds currently account for less than 30 percent of total U.S. research and development funding. Yet, the government provides the majority of funding for basic research, as well as research conducted at universities and colleges throughout our nation [1]. Proper support of scientific research is necessary for improving the health and well-being of Americans. For example, drug development, even from the private sector, is often based on publicly funded research [2]. Without enough support, the American people will be denied new life-saving treatments. Moreover, publicly supported scientific research also helps to boost the economy. On average, every U.S. dollar spent by the National Institutes of Health generates more than double that in additional economic output within one year [3].

SWHR supports the free exchange of ideas from a diverse audience to continue the collaborative thinking that has helped establish the U.S. as a leader in scientific progress. Instituting travel ban restrictions impacts the capabilities of the scientific community. A diverse group of researchers and scientists can increase productivity and lead to better decision-making and problem-solving, all of which are key to scientific progress. Each person brings their own experiences and ways of thinking, which in turn can create new perspectives, innovation, and cutting-edge breakthroughs in medical and scientific research.

When boundaries are placed on funding and diversity, it limits the potentials of science. As the leading science-based advocate for advancing women’s health interests, SWHR has seen firsthand the crucial role science has played in improving the health of all women. It is critical that the vital role of science in our society not be diminished, not just for women, but for all Americans.

About SWHR
The Society for Women’s Health Research (SWHR®) is a national non-profit based in Washington, DC. A thought-leader in promoting research on biological differences in disease, SWHR is dedicated to advancing women’s health through science, advocacy, and education.

References:

  1. National Science Board. Science and Engineering Indicators 2014. Arlington VA: National Science Foundation, 2014. (NSB 14-01).
  2. Kesselheim, AS, et al. The roles of academia, rare diseases, and repurposing in the development of the most transformative drugs. Health Affairs, 2015. 34(2): 286-293.
  3. Macilwain, C. Science economics: What science is really worth. Nature, 2010. 465(7299): 682-684.
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