What happened to science?

Since World War II, American biomedical research has driven innovation, economic growth, and breathtaking advances in public health.

In the US, research projects are typically funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). However, over the last decade, research funding has declined by 22 percent. Today, additional budget proposals for 2018 seek to immediately reduce the NIH budget by 18 percent.


30 million Americans are affected by 7,000 different rare diseases, for which less than 5 percent have effective treatments

All Americans benefit from the outcomes of NIH research; however, it isn't nearly enough. This is true for millions of individuals impacted by thousands of common and chronic medical conditions. It's also especially true for the 30 million Americans suffering from the 7,000 different rare diseases without effective treatments.

Most of the new drugs approved by the FDA since 2010 arose from basic scientific research that was initiated in the 1970s or 1980s.

"Today we spend 50x more treating people who are sick than we spend finding cures so people don’t get sick in the first place. That makes no sense." -Mark Zuckerberg

Innovation often comes from serendipity

Many scientific discoveries began by mistakes or accidents; however, they have led to concrete benefits in human health. It was an exploratory investigation into how bacteria fight the flu that led to CRISPR, a new tool that can edit genes, leading to improvements in how immune cells fight disease and potentially cures for inherited conditions. The first antibiotic, penicillin, was discovered by Alexander Fleming on accident, from observing random bread molds. Even the development of technologies like the X-ray came from accidents when W.C. Röntgen shot electric current through a low-pressure gas in a glass tube.


The Value of Basic Research to Discovery

Despite unparalleled rewards reaped from exploratory studies, few companies today support basic research because its results typically seem unpredictable, unable to be immediately commercialized, and too early to be patented. That's why the government would historically step in to support basic research with a long time horizon that doesn't make sense for businesses optimizing for maximum short-term returns.

Today, society's commitment to science is less than 1% of federal spending while areas like military expediture are nearly 54%.

Despite relatively tiny investment in science, basic research results in phenomenal advances that create industries, improve quality of lives, and improve human health.

Basic science funding is mission critical to the advancement of humanity.


Our mission is to enable more medical innovation and improve the world’s collective health.

To acheive this, we're creating a funding environment that encourages high-impact discoveries and a place where anyone can engage to help accelerate research.

Examples of how serendipity, failure, and long time horizons with basic research has led to concrete benefits for public health.

AZT: In the 1960s, NIH-funded researchers developed AZT as a medication to treat cancer. Later, NIH and Burroughs-Wellcome reimagined the medication as a treatment against HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. The use of AZT and other therapies means that a person diagnosed with HIV today can live up to 30 additional years.

Gleevec: 40 years of research ended in identifying an aberrant protein that causes cancer in blood cells. Later Oregon Health and Science University and Novartis collaborated to create an inhibitor. Today, Gleevec has increased the 5-year survival rate for the cancer from 27 percent to over 95 percent.

Funding more long-term research can produce greater social benefit.

"The lack of investment in longer-term drugs resulted in a loss of 890,000 life-years among people diagnosed with cancer in the year 2003 alone."

"There are only six cancer drugs in existence that are preventative in nature — and all six have been developed because of public funding."

"Alternative or public funding of research and development for anti-cancer drugs is free of short-term, private-sector shareholder pressure to produce returns " - MIT Study: Firms “underinvest” in long-term cancer research

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