News: Featured Stories

April 22, 2017

UMass Medical School dean, colleagues call March for Science ‘first step’


  • Medical School
In Boston Globe editorial, deans issue call to action to rebuild public trust in science

Tens of thousands of people flocked to Washington, D.C., Boston and 400 other cities around the world for the March for Science on April 22, but UMass Medical School Dean Terence R. Flotte and his colleagues at Harvard Medical School, Tufts University School of Medicine and Boston University School of Medicine don’t want the fight for National Institutes of Health funding to stop there.

In an editorial published in the Boston Globe, “After the March for Science, the fight must go on,” the medical school deans issued a call to action to rebuild the public trust in science.

“We must make a sustained effort to engage the public and to make science meaningful, relevant and captivating,” said Drs. Flotte, George Q. Daley (Harvard); Harris Berman (Tufts); and Karen Antman (Boston University) in the Globe. Flotte is the Celia and Isaac Haidak Professor of Medical Education, executive deputy chancellor, provost and dean of the School of Medicine at UMMS. “We must capture the imagination of the very people whom our mission benefits and share with them our own enthusiasm for science.”

Last month, President Trump proposed a $5.8 billion cut to the $32 billion budget of the NIH—the primary funding source for American research. The medical school deans say the cuts would deal a devastating blow to scientific breakthroughs, to the economy and to the next generation of scientists.

“Millions of Americans, and billions of people around the globe, benefit from life-saving, life-sustaining or life-altering therapies made possible by federal investment in scientific research,” they said. “Basic research, which occupies itself with understanding the building blocks of life—cells, molecules, atoms—would be affected most severely by these cuts. Some of the greatest successes in modern medicine have occurred precisely because of so-called ‘curiosity-driven’ research.”

The authors said that over the last 40 years, NIH-funded research has led to the discovery of 153 FDA-approved drugs, vaccines or new indications for older drugs for leukemia, HIV, hepatitis B, human papillomavirus and Ebola, to name just a few.