Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Adrian Smith's YouCut Video Is Wrong About NSF



I called Congressman Smith's office (202) 225-6435, spoke with "Nate" and asked him to forward this message:

My wife risks her life everyday conducting research that brings hope to the families of those stricken with neurodegenerative diseases, specifically Parkinson's disease (PD).

She is a postdoctoral fellow at the leading PD research lab in the world. It's not in Japan (we've worked there), and it's not in New Zealand (she's worked there, too), and it's not in Italy (where another researcher actually memorized my wife's paper and quoted it to her at a recent conference). The best lab in the world for what she does is here, in the U.S.

And it is the U.S. that continues to lead in scientific innovation because of the nature of the funding structures that exists at places like NIH, NIDA, and NSF.

The funding mechanisms in the U.S. work well. If you ask any scientist that's worth their salt, they will tell you that they actively seek more public participation in the process of research innovation and creation. That's what Cornell's Doug James and Northwestern's Luis Amaral (the two scientists whose work is singled-out in the above video) even said in this article.

My wife's research is dangerous. Everyday she could potentially die from conducting her research. Her colleagues are regularly threatened and intimated by activists. In fact, at the recent Society for Neuroscience conference in San Diego, there was a bomb threat at her hotel.

When people learn that my wife's a neuroscientist they tend to think that she's two things: 1) a neurosurgeon and 2) rich. She is neither. She would make more money if she was managing a coffee shop.

So why should she risk being killed by the work she does, or being killed by some disgruntled populist? She'll quietly tell you that she does this work because she believes in serving the greater good.

And shame on Adrian Smith for stirring-up public ill-will with a campaign like this.

As someone who sits on the Committee on Science & Technology, Rep. Smith has an obligation to foster participation in promoting science, not fomenting distrust.

9 comments:

  1. Not to mention Smith's caricature of researchers blithely wasting taxpayer money on "useless" research is misinformed to begin with: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/40574700/ns/technology_and_science-science/

    ~ Dave Mead

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