Yesterday, I had a visit from a high school friend who is in town as part of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology "Hill Day," when the ASBMB brings young academic researchers to Washington to discuss the importance of federal support for scientific research.
Eric is a postdoctoral associate at Yale University, where he spends his days trying to cure cancer, he says humbly.
He spends his free time - what little of it there is - advocating for improved science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education.
He has seen first-hand the remarkable possibilities that American graduate school students hold for improving health care around the world, but he also worries about the lack of adequate support for STEM and how that could impact future generations of researchers like him.
He speaks highly of the collaborations among government, academic, and biopharmaceutical company research, and how those partnerships help to bring new therapies to fruition for American patients - but he also sees the need to maintain robust funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH). NIH provides critical research training opportunities in STEM education, helping to build a STEM workforce to address the "grand challenges" of the 21st century. Last year, the Council for American Medical Innovation released a report, Gone Tomorrow, which called for a national medical innovation agenda that would help to support America's life sciences sectors. One of the report's findings was that our biosciences talent pool is limited, and we are in need of a renewed commitment to STEM education.
If the U.S. continues to drop in global STEM rankings, so too will our global competitiveness and our ability to develop tomorrow's new cures. At PhRMA, we view supporting and strengthening STEM education as critical to reaffirming and strengthening America's role as the engine of discovery and biomedical innovation.
The future of America's biopharmaceutical talent pool depends on support for fostering more Erics.