Friday, January 18, 2013

Funding Innovative Science

Government budget cuts and deficit reduction become a dangerous game when innovation and science take a hit.As Anthony Hyman writes in his Jan. 11, 2013 piece in Science: "A Science Editorial called for 500 [NIH New Innovator Awards] in 2009, only 51 were awarded in 2012." Hyman describes programs in Europe that hire and fund young researchers for five or nine years to work on their own projects, at their own pace, to encourage innovation, and create independent scientific leadership. We need more of these sorts of programs around the world.

There is too much short-term thinking driving governmental and corporate policies. If we plan only for today, there will be no tomorrow. Even before today's toxic environment of cut first, ask questions later austerity, there has been too little commitment and investment in science and innovation. There is striking hoopla given to flash in the pan repackaging and rehashing of existing technology, and too little support given to high-risk/high-reward efforts.