Obama/Biden Policy Highlights STEM Funding; Who Will Advance Science at FDA?

Just saw the Obama/Biden "fact sheet for science" outlining some ambitious goals for the incoming Administration.  Its cornerstones:

  • Restoring integrity to U.S. science policy to ensure that decisions that can be informed by science are made on the basis of the strongest possible evidence.
    • Doubling over a 10 year period the federal investment in basic research by key science agencies, with a special emphasis on supporting young researchers at the beginning of their careers, and backing high-risk, high-return research.
    • Making a national commitment to science education and training by recruiting some of America’s best minds to teach K-12 math and science and by tripling the number of the National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowships.
    • Encouraging American innovation to flourish by making the R&D tax credit permanent, streamlining our patent system, eliminating the capital gains tax on start-ups and small businesses, and promoting the deployment of next-generation broadband networks.
    • Addressing the “grand challenges” of the 21st century through accelerating the transition to a lowcarbon, oil-free economy, enabling all Americans to live longer and healthier lives, and protecting our country from emerging threats to our national security.

    Amen!  Time will only tell how many of these will come to fruition, but they are sorely needed...and how nice that the phrase "basic research" comes up at all!

 But a new Administration brings with it questions about Federal Agency staffing.  It's easy to picture Al Gore as EPA chief.  But who should take over at FDA?  John Mack is taking a poll on this critical topic.  I think Janet Woodcock would advance the first bullet point most effectively at FDA. She's already been doing this behind the scenes.  (But would she want all the headaches of the job?)  As the Wall Street Journal health blog has noted, she is industry's favored nominee.  Perhaps even pharma companies regulated by FDA have to recognize that she is backing good science (even as some of them mistrust or ignore the Agency's invitation to change established ways of handling drug development and manufacturing)