A Letter from the President

Salk Institute for Biological Studies - A Letter from the President

A Letter from the President

Dear Salk Community:

Like you and everyone else in the scientific community, I am deeply appalled at the White House administration’s proposed budget cuts to the National Institutes of Health. If enacted, they would squander much of the huge collective national resource of biomedical science that has been built up during the past few decades. Extraordinary advances in biological sciences have been possible because of the nation’s commitment and investment in NIH. These advances have already proven to have major impacts on human diseases. To throw them away by starving the NIH of needed support will jeopardize our ability to consolidate and grow these gains, and will risk the loss of much of the new and game-changing research that is already starting to significantly benefit human health and wellbeing.

Simply put, such damaging cuts would threaten human lives. They would set back the future of attacking the major diseases that cause most morbidity and premature mortality in humans worldwide. Specifically, they would derail important progress being made on any number of research fronts ranging all the way from tackling cancers, diabetes, dementias and mental health to helping early human development and optimizing quality of life as we age. They would severely handicap America’s position as a global leader in innovative research.

The Salk Institute has a mission to tackle major problems of humanity and is prepared to take a leading role in voicing protest. Here is our plan.

We are beginning locally by strongly supporting The San Diego March for Science on April 22. All Salk employees are encouraged to join this event and to thereby show our community and our political leaders that scientific research cannot be devalued. I know that Rebecca Newman and her external relations team are already committed to marching. Our communications team is organizing a group sign-making activity on campus the day before the march and we are looking into ordering Salk-branded t-shirts and banners for participants. We will keep you informed about details as the day approaches.

It’s been more than a decade since I penned a cautionary essay in the New England Journal of Medicine about disregarding scientific expertise while formulating government policy. At that time, I wrote that it is “the unspoken attitude of the scientific community, independent of our personal political affiliations” to “volunteer their expertise to the government.” That is what we are going to do once again. Science is based on critical thinking grounded in data, on sound, well-researched facts. We will continue to present these highly relevant and indisputable facts to our political leaders and we will continue to urge them to defend funding for our invaluable scientific research.

Elizabeth Blackburn
President, Salk Institute