Creating a robust

research enterprise

Published 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 SundquistWes 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.