June 27, 2012
Golden Goose Award to Honor ‘Breakthrough’ Government Research
The Breakthrough Institute has joined with a group of leading congressmen and public policy, business, and academic organizations to sponsor the new Golden Goose Award, which will "highlight the often unexpected or serendipitous nature of basic scientific research."
Recognizing that new scientific or technological advances can come from unexpected places, the award will honor federally funded researchers whose projects initially sounded odd or obscure but contributed to important breakthroughs.
But scientific research has been the spine of American economic growth. "As much as half of US economic growth since World War II has been the result of advances in science and technology," according to Alan Leshner, CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
And some peculiar projects have led to important gains. Federally funded research into dog urine helped scientists understand how hormones affect the human kidney, which has been useful for treating diabetes patients. A study of acoustic trauma to guinea pigs helped advance treatment for infants with early hearing loss.
And research into the reproduction of the screwworm -- a deadly parasite that targets cattle -- cost the government $250,000 but may have saved the cattle industry more than $20 billion.
"We've all seen reports that ridicule odd-sounding research projects as examples of government waste," Representative Jim Cooper (D-TN), who first proposed the award, said in a statement. "The Golden Goose Award does the opposite. It recognizes that a valuable federally funded research project may sound funny, but its purpose is no laughing matter. I hope more of my colleagues will join us in supporting, not killing, the goose that lays the golden egg."
The Golden Goose Award is sponsored by the Breakthrough Institute along with representatives Cooper, Charlie Dent (R-PA), and Robert J. Dold (R-IL), as well as the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Association of American Universities, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, the Progressive Policy Institute, the Science Coalition, and the Task Force on American Innovation.
A panel of outside experts is expected to select the first Golden Goose Award winners in September 2012. Panelists include:
- Bruce Alberts, editor-in-chief, Science;
- Wendy Baldwin, President and CEO, Population Reference Bureau and former Deputy Director for Extramural Research, National Institutes of Health;
- Mel Bernstein, senior vice provost for research and graduate education, Northeastern University;
- Steve Fluharty, senior vice provost for research, University of Pennsylvania;
- Dennis Hall, vice provost for research and dean of the graduate school, Vanderbilt University;
- Sharon Hays, Vice President, Office of Science and Engineering at CSC and Associate Director for Science in the Office of Science and Technology Policy under George W. Bush;
- Burton Richter, Nobel Prize-winning physicist and Breakthrough Institute Senior Fellow; and
- Leslie Tolbert, senior vice president for research, University of Arizona.
Anyone who wishes to nominate a scientist or research team for the award should request a nomination form by sending an email to email@example.com.