ASCB Newsletter Nov 2013 - page 5

Looking back, I can see why the U.S.
Congress loved the Human Genome Project.
It was finite with a clear, attainable goal, a
budget, and a time frame. True exploratory
research—what’s sometimes called discovery
science—offers Congress none of these
guarantees. And yet we know very well that
unexpected and unpredicted breakthroughs
are the main drivers of
biomedical progress.
I think we need to vastly
improve our knowledge about
the benefits of discovery
science on health, wealth, and
national competitiveness. We
need new evidence, beyond
anecdotes, to make a clear case
for basic research in terms of
return on investment. A lab
bench cluttered with glassware,
pipettes, and Sharpie pens may
one day become the site of a
Nobel-winning discovery in
cancer biology. But a small,
overcrowded biology lab is
never going to give visiting
legislators the same emotional hit as a 17-mile-
wide, eye-popping instrument.
Often we underestimate the importance of
making our case for bioscience. We need more
powerful, data-driven studies that reveal what
admittedly expensive inputs in basic research
will yield. If not big collider rings, we need to
show great quantifiable economic and social
benefits for our funders—taxpayers.
We treat this side of the science
equation too lightly and I am very
pleased to hear that there is a new
initiative in Washington called
Science Counts, which ASCB is
joining, to do exactly this critical
When the underground LHC
tour ended, we rode up to the
surface together—politicians,
physicists, and one very excited
cell biologist who was hoping that
some of the glamour from the Higgs
boson had rubbed off. I can’t wait
to get to work on building the case
for our smaller scale but powerful
A very big
machine used
in a very big
and very
project makes
a strong
political case
for scientific
Volunteer to Review CVs
We are always looking for more volunteers to help review cover letters, CVs, and resumes online for young ASCB scientists. If
you can help, please contact Thea Clarke at
ASCB Member Benefit: One-on-One CV Review
Need some help with a cover letter, CV, resume, statement of teaching philosophy, or other document for the next step in your
career? Members of the ASCB are willing to help. Just fill out a short form (
), and we’ll put you in touch
with a reviewer. Then the two of you can decide which digital collaboration tool to use (email, Google Docs, Skype, Wikispaces,
etc.). You must be an ASCB member to take advantage of this service.
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