“If you think research is expensive, try disease.” In that simple phrase, advocate Mary Lasker (1901-1994) summed up the case for investing more in the future of health and health care. Because the nation’s elected officials, with the enthusiastic support of the public, responded to that wisdom, Americans’ life expectancy increased dramatically in the second half of the twentieth century, and the U.S. became the global leader in life sciences. Just as most American families can point to research as the “game-changer” in protecting the health—and often the very life—of someone near to them, our nation can point to research for an estimated 50-fold return to our economy. But our once-undisputed lead is now forecast to end (see Battelle and Georgia Tech reports). This means new businesses and jobs will be created elsewhere, not here. So why aren’t we making research more of a centerpiece, instead of an after-thought, when we talk about health care reform? According to polls commissioned by Research!America, 71% of the American public says research is part of the solution to containing health care costs, not part of the problem. The public supports stronger investment in research; our President and the Congress should act on their behalf.
Mary Woolley is
President and CEO, Research!America