Toward a Sustainable Biomedical Research Enterprise

The stability of the American biomedical research enterprise is threatened by an expanding research workforce in a time of stagnant budgets. The Public Affairs Advisory Committee of the ASBMB has been working on these and other sustainability issues since 2012.

During this time, over half a dozen other organizations and individuals have written reports and proposed dozens of recommendations to improve the sustainability of the research enterprise. However, the numerous recommendations, the broad scope of the reports and insufficient levels of collaboration among these groups have made it difficult for the community to identify areas of strong agreement.

Rather than adding more recommendations to the literature, we have drawn together some of the disparate threads of the sustainability discussion so that the community can chart a path toward implementation and sustainability. Analyzing nine sustainability reports, we found they shared a high degree of overlap among recommendations and had a minimal number of unique recommendations. This indicated to us that these groups were having the same conversations and arriving at the same conclusions.

To move from discussion to implementation, we identified recommendations that were made by the majority of groups. These eight consensus recommendations form the basis for our paper: “Toward a sustainable biomedical research enterprise: Finding consensus and implementing recommendations.” Based on a foundation of consensus, we provide reasonable actions to move this conversation forward, begin implementation and make the enterprise more sustainable.

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