There were two excellent essays in today’s Herald Leader describing the devastating impact of cuts to government funded scientific research as a result of the budget sequestration deal. One essay was by Sharon P. Turner the Dean of Oral Health at UK College of Dentistry, and the other was by George Ward, the executive director of the Coldstream research campus.
Many people (read conservative Republicans) act as if government funding for scientific research pays for research into strange and esoteric things. Critics of government funding for research love to point to weird examples like mating habits of insects, but the reality is that most government funded research is very practical, and often directly tied to real world issues.
Dean Turner points research into oral health infections of pregnant women, and notes that these infections often relate to low birth weight babies. Curing these diseases results in substantial savings in neonatal costs. George Ward notes that government funded research at Coldstream has created dozens of businesses, which generate millions of dollars for the local economy.
Scientific research is the foundation of the industries, and business, of the future. Cutting funding to such research may save a few dollars today, but at the expense of the economic develop, and tax revenue, of tomorrow.