Home > Uncategorized > Michael Milken: Investing in Science, Reaping Rewards – WSJ.com

Michael Milken: Investing in Science, Reaping Rewards – WSJ.com

September 8, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

Yet scientific breakthroughs, combined with public-health advances, underlie what is arguably the greatest accomplishment in human history: World-wide average life expectancy has more than doubled since 1900. This has fostered major social benefits and economic growth in this country and many others. Consider East Asia, where life expectancy went to about 70 from 39 over the past half century. As Eli Lilly CEO John Lechleiter told this newspaper last year, that might go a long way toward explaining the Asian economic boom.

The United States science ecosystem—defined by collaborations among public agencies, for-profit companies, nonprofit organizations and academic research centers—still leads the world and provides benefits to every nation. But there’s no guarantee that will always be the case. Science magazine reported earlier this year that China already surpasses us in gene-sequencing capacity. Meanwhile, a 2012 National Research Council report said that American research universities “face critical threats and challenges that may seriously erode their quality.” These include financial pressures and increased international competition—two of many concerns behind this weekend’s science initiative.

Much of the work over the next three days will focus on the biological sciences and their capacity to deal with major global issues. In addition to addressing the enormous human and economic toll of disease, the biological sciences also promise to help solve many seemingly intractable global issues—lack of access to abundant food and clean water, the defense against pandemics and bioterrorism, reliable energy supplies and environmental sustainability. Each of these issues profoundly affects economic growth.

Can we afford to invest in bioscience? Don’t we have a budget crisis that’s about to drive us off a fiscal cliff? We do, and we must deal with that through the political process. But there is an important role for government in fostering basic science, which not only saves lives but also improves quality of life. Bioscience in particular provides sustained long-term benefits through job creation, increased productivity, lower health-care costs, longer working lives, process efficiencies and cheaper energy.

via Michael Milken: Investing in Science, Reaping Rewards – WSJ.com.

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