Press Release

American Academy of Arts & Sciences Brings Focus of Restoring the Foundation to Duke University


The Unstable Biomedical Research Ecosystem: How Can It Be Made More Robust?

Tuesday, February 24, 2015
Duke University

CAMBRIDGE, MA | FEBRUARY 17, 2015 – The American Academy of Arts & Sciences continues its dialogue with the key constituencies most deeply affected by its recent report, Restoring the Foundation: The Vital Role of Research in Preserving the American Dream.

The report, which seeks to restore and fortify American leadership in science, technology, and engineering, offers three imperatives for academia, government, and the private sector:

  • Secure America’s leadership in science and engineering research – especially basic research – by providing sustainable federal investment
  • Ensure that the American people receive the maximum benefit from federal investments in research
  • Regain America’s standing as an innovation leader by establishing a more robust national government-university-industry research partnership.

Duke University, recognized as one of the nation’s leaders in biomedical research and engineering, is hosting an important discussion on issues raised in Restoring the Foundation, as well as a recent paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by Bruce Alberts and his colleagues, specifically addressing “The Unstable Biomedical Research Ecosystem: How Can It Be Made More Robust?”

According to these and other publications, NIH-supported biomedical research at American universities is unsustainable, an unintended consequence of the rapid, albeit much needed, expansion of the NIH budget. Many expected such investment to continue, when instead the biomedical research budget stalled and then contracted. The resulting imbalance – an increasing supply of trained biomedical researchers pursuing a limited number of positions, as well as expanding academic laboratories seeking support from a finite funding pool – has imposed crippling strains on the biomedical research enterprise.

Restoring the Foundation was produced by the American Academy’s Committee on New Models for U.S. Science & Technology Policy. Two of its members, Nancy C. Andrews and Mark Fishman, will help lead the discussion to further develop ideas from the report and promote implementation of the recommendations.


Nancy C. Andrews
Dean, Duke University School of Medicine and
Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs
Tania Baker
E.C. Whitehead Professor of Biology,
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Mark Fishman
President, Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research
Sally Kornbluth
Provost, Duke University
Harold Varmus
Director, National Cancer Institute
Susan Wente
Provost, Vanderbilt University


Additional Remarks from:

Jonathan F. Fanton
President, American Academy of Arts and Sciences
Richard H. Brodhead
President, Duke University


About The American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Since its founding in 1780, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences has served the nation as a champion of scholarship, civil dialogue, and useful knowledge. As one of the nation’s oldest learned societies and independent policy research centers, the Academy convenes leaders from the academic, business, and government sectors to address critical challenges facing our global society. Through studies, publications, and programs on Science, Engineering, and Technology; Global Security and International Affairs; the Humanities, Arts, and Education; and American Institutions and the Public Good, the Academy provides authoritative and nonpartisan policy advice to decision-makers in government, academia, and the private sector. Follow the American Academy on Facebook at and on Twitter @americanacad

About Duke University

Duke University is a private institution founded in 1838 that today serves undergraduate and graduate students. The School of Medicine is one of Duke’s 12 graduate schools and is consistently ranked among the top 10 medical schools in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. The School of Medicine comprises 21 basic science and clinical departments and numerous centers and institutes including the Duke Human Vaccine Institute, Duke Clinical Research Institute, and Duke Cancer Institute. The School of Medicine offers a unique curriculum and numerous highly regarded educational programs, as well as the research and patient care efforts of more than 2,000 basic science and clinical faculty. Their combined efforts make Duke one of the largest biomedical research enterprises in the country, with more than $700 million in sponsored research annually.