December 22, 2016
Dear President-elect Trump: As leading scientific organizations in the biological sciences, we write to encourage you to make scientific research and education a priority during your administration. Part of what makes America great is our capacity to generate new knowledge and ideas that spur innovation and drive the development of new economic opportunities for all Americans.
We respectfully request that you take swift action to:
1) Make scientific research a budget priority
2) Appoint a Presidential Science Advisor with strong scientific credentials
3) Direct your administration to use peer-reviewed scientific information to inform decisions Biology is the science of life.
Every day, discoveries arising from biological research contribute to improved human health and economic security. Biology is a foundational science from which we build new antibiotic and antiviral medications, translate findings from genetics laboratories into the development of more drought tolerant food crops, and develop new materials inspired by biological compounds and structures.
Biological diversity surveys, for example, provide us with the information we need to identify and model diseases, such as Ebola and Zika, which can jump from wild animal populations to humans. Insights derived from our investigations into the human microbial biome are improving our understanding of various health conditions and diseases, such as food allergies, Crohn’s and Inflammatory Bowel Disease, among many others.
Biological research enables us to make more informed decisions about natural resource management and stewardship. When we understand how ecological systems function, we can prevent and better mitigate disruptions to important environmental processes that provide us with clean air and water. Research is an important engine that powers our economy. Over the past 50 years, roughly half of our nation’s private sector economic growth has resulted from research and development.
One analysis of the return on the federal government’s $12 billion investment in the Human Genome Project found that it generated an estimated $800 billion in economic return. Other economic analyses of investments in agricultural research have estimated a $10 return on every $1 the federal government invests.
These are just some examples and others may be found in a recent report from the American Institute of Biological Sciences (see https://www.aibs.org/public-policy/resources/AIBS_Biological_Innovation_Report.pdf).
In short, taxpayer support of scientific research pays dividends. The federal government provides more than half of the funding for basic research in the United States. Indeed, industry counts on the federal government to support fundamental discovery so that the private sector may target its resources to new product development. For example, 80,000 patents awarded over a 10-year period were based on research initially funded by the federal government’s National Science Foundation. Although the United States has long been a global leader in science, our leadership is waning. Foreign countries are allocating growing shares of their Gross Domestic Product to research and development.
New investments in federal research agencies must be a priority if we are to be a global power. Science is a rapidly advancing field that builds on itself. One scientific discipline borrows from another. Thus, it is important that federal agencies coordinate and strategically leverage their research portfolios.
One of the ways in which the federal government coordinates its scientific priorities is through the President’s Science Advisor and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. A strong and respected science advisor can provide the honest and timely analysis you will require to make informed decisions on threats to public health, national security, and environmental incidents that can threaten the well-being of people for years into the future. The Office of Science and Technology Policy can also help to ensure that federal research programs are responding to the needs of the scientific community and the nation. We encourage you to work with the National Academies of Science and professional scientific associations such as the undersigned to identify a highly qualified individual who can provide you with the highest caliber scientific advice and counsel. Science has not been, nor do we think it should be, a partisan issue. Rather, it is a public benefit. We request that upon taking office you provide clear and immediate guidance through the White House Office of Management and Budget and the Office of Science and Technology
Policy to all federal department and agency heads directing them to seek and use peer-reviewed scientific information as the basis for decision-making. Many federal programs have established scientific advisory boards and committees. These panels should be filled and staffed by qualified scientists. To do otherwise will call into question the credibility of any government actions taken on matters of health, security, or environmental stewardship. We stand ready to work with you, your transition team, and your administration to move forward programs and policy that advance science for the benefit of the nation.
Please contact Dr. Robert Gropp at email@example.com or 202-628-1500 x 250 if we can provide any assistance to you and your administration.
Sincerely, American Arachnological Society American Institute of Biological Sciences American Malacological Society American Ornithological Society American Society of Agronomy American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists American Society of Mammalogists American Society of Naturalists American Society of Parasitologists American Society of Primatologists Animal Behavior Society Annis Water Resources Institute, Grand Valley State University Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation Association of Southeastern Biologists Belle W. Baruch Institute for Marine and Coastal Science, University of South Carolina Berkeley Natural History Museums BioQUEST Botanical Society of America Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation Crop Science Society of America Delaware Museum of Natural History Entomological Society of America Great Lakes Research Center of Michigan Technological University Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution at Florida Atlantic University Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology Hatfield Marine Science Center Helminthological Society of Washington Herpetologists’ League Human Anatomy and Physiology Society iDigBio International Association for Bear Research and Management Kewalo Marine Laboratory, University of Hawaii at Manoa Moss Landing Marine Laboratories National Association of Biology Teachers National Association of Marine Laboratories National Tropical Botanical Garden NC State University/Center for Marine Sciences & Technology Oregon State University Herbarium Organization of Biological Field Stations Paleontological Society Phycological Society of America Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History Society for Conservation Biology North America Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology Society for Mathematical Biology Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles Society for the Study of Evolution Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry Society of Systematic Biologists Soil Science Society of America Southwestern Association of Naturalists State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry The Field Museum of Natural History University of California Davis Bodega Marine Laboratory University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Institute of Marine Sciences University of Wisconsin – Madison, Department of Botany US Regional Association of the International Association of Landscape Ecology Whitney Laboratory for Marine Bioscience, University of Florida Wisconsin State Herbarium