Maintaining Science Eminence

Science  23 Aug 2013:
Vol. 341, Issue 6148, pp. 820
DOI: 10.1126/science.1244269

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The U.S. scientific enterprise is heavily beleaguered. The economy is only now recovering from bad times, and there is great pressure to get the federal budget deficit under control. The “sequester,” an across-the-board cut in the entire federal budget, is making matters even worse for science, whose budget has failed to keep pace with inflation for at least the past 4 years. These realities are coming at the same time as other countries are increasing their R&D investments, in spite of similar economic conditions, responding to the clear relationship between a nation's research capacity, its economic strength, and the well-being of its people. The inequality in science funding trends is threatening America's standing in the global scientific community. Losing its eminence in science would probably result in fewer foreign scientists coming to study and work in the United States (and even perhaps some “brain drain” of U.S. scientists), fewer U.S.-based science and technology breakthroughs, and fewer U.S. startup companies and jobs.