Essay

Creating a robust research enterprise

Wes Sundquist Benjamin Corb
By Wes Sundquist and Benjamin Corb
September 01, 2016

More than two years ago, the Public Affairs Advisory Committee at the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology began focusing time and effort on identifying systemic problems facing the scientific research community. Funding, or lack thereof, obviously has added considerable stress, but other issues also need to be addressed to optimize the effectiveness and sustainability of the biomedical research enterprise. We’ve written about these efforts in the “News from the Hill” columns in ASBMB Today, researched scholarly works by luminaries in the research community and published our findings in a scientific publication. In addition, in February, the PAAC hosted a multiday summit to identify what the scientific community can do to improve itself and the future of the field that we love.

In the columns published in ASBMB Today and the Policy Blotter, the PAAC’s blog, we’ve shared with the community our thoughts and experiences regarding how best to ensure into the future a robust and sustained biomedical research enterprise. We’ve formed partnerships with organizations that have complementary interests, such as Rescuing Biomedical Research (now directed by former ASBMB policy analyst Christopher Pickett) and the Future of Research. We’ve identified a series of recommendations for improving the research enterprise that are specific and enjoy broad support within our community; we are taking actions to ensure that these recommendations are achieved.

In the following months, essays by different PAAC members and our partners will appear in ASBMB Today, describing the actions we’re promoting and explaining their underlying rationales. For example, we’ll discuss the importance of optimizing the roles of staff scientists in the future, the merits of standardizing postdoctoral positions, and the best approaches for defining what a sustainable enterprise looks like and setting research funding levels to achieve sustainability.

With these essays, our goal is to explain what we are doing and to open conversations with our colleagues. We acknowledge that many of the issues are complex and that we may disagree on the wisdom of specific steps or actions. However, we are confident that we all agree that the American biomedical research enterprise is so important that we must pursue activities that will help to sustain our field well into the future.

Wes Sundquist
Wes Sundquist

Wes Sundquist is chairman of the ASBMB PAAC and co-chair of the department of biochemistry at the University of Utah.

Benjamin Corb

Benjamin Corb is director of public affairs at ASBMB.

Join the ASBMB Today mailing list

Sign up to get updates on articles, interviews and events.

Latest in Policy

Policy highlights or most popular articles

Pandemic threatens food security for many college students
News

Pandemic threatens food security for many college students

January 17, 2021

One spring 2020 report found that 38% of students at four-year universities were food-insecure in the previous 30 days.

From neuroscientist to science policy analyst
Jobs

From neuroscientist to science policy analyst

January 15, 2021

Careers columnist Martina G. Efeyini talked to NHLBI staffer Nicholas Jury about his career path.

What the election results mean for science
Blotter

What the election results mean for science

November 11, 2020

Biden has promised “disciplined, trustworthy leadership grounded in science”; runoffs will determine the balance of power in Congress.

ASBMB raises concerns about proposed visa changes
Blotter

ASBMB raises concerns about proposed visa changes

October 29, 2020

Trump administration seeks to limit duration of stay and impose other restrictions on foreign scientists and students

Survey: 1 in 5 NIH workers were sexually harassed in past year
Blotter

Survey: 1 in 5 NIH workers were sexually harassed in past year

October 09, 2020

Young, nonbinary and bisexual employees were most likely to experience harassment.

Pandemic snarls research administration
Funding

Pandemic snarls research administration

October 01, 2020

With data collection slowed and grant applications way up, the pandemic is disrupting the complex, slow-moving NIH funding system. Federal officials and university grant administrators are working to help researchers keep things moving.