USA Election 2016: What it means for science and innovation

Hillary Rodham Clinton is in the final stage of her bid for the presidency of the United States of America. As the Democratic candidate, she is continuing the mission of promoting science education, research, and innovation that has been a hallmark of the Obama administration.

On her website, you can see a host of issues and policy related to science and healthcare including but not limited to:

  • a mission to cure Alzheimer’s by 2025, investing $2 billion per year for dementia related disorders;
  • a focus on renewable energy with half a billion solar panels installed by the end of her first term; and
  • providing new federal funding for research into brain development and human behavior, supporting her record of advocating for people with autism by investing in autism research, and a “call for the first-ever nationwide study of the prevalence of adult autism”.

Secretary Clinton, above all else, believes in science and what it can do for us. For the science community, this is the kind of leader we need.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Donald Trump, the Republican candidate, has a failing grade with respect to science policy. While his positions are often nebulous and he has mostly kept quiet on science matters, he has stated that:

  • the NIH is “terrible”;
  • climate change is a hoax; and
  • he has no true position on vaccinations.

To summarize, for the next four years to be a successful four years for the science community in the USA, we need someone who can understand the issues and who believes that science can change the world for the better.

As for the pharmaceutical industry, Secretary Clinton has received major contributions from employees of drug companies and one can see with little searching that she is the preferred candidate of the pharmaceutical industry.

Pharma companies operate without borders. Secretary Clinton’s policies are at the very least clear to understand, her position changes very little, and she is much more supportive of international trade than her opponent.

At the end of April 2016, her campaign received $240,000 in donations from industry employees, compared to just $1,700 for Donald Trump. To put this in perspective, Obama took in $500,000 in the same amount of time. This may be due to Clinton’s fight against rising drug prices and taking on the industry to lower the cost of medicines for patients.

For a vibrant and sustained life science economy, and continued international collaboration between governments, academics, and pharma/biotech, the choice for President is clear to me. Hillary Clinton, at least during the last year of her campaign, has established herself as the champion for science relative to her opponent Donald Trump. Whether the political climate will allow her to do even better than President Obama has for patients is uncertain, but I can say this, the Precision Medicine Initiative had full bipartisan support when announced on January 20, 2015. Let’s hope for the best and keep our voices loud.

by Dr Kirill Gorshkov






US citizens are ready to exercise their civic duty by going to the polls on Tuesday, Nov 8. Their strong beliefs will hand the reins of the US Presidency to either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. Americans and the world recognize that STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) disciplines play an increasingly important role in the progress of our nations and their people. The US is faced with great challenges, which include conquering diseases, creating jobs, and developing clean energy. To overcome these challenges, each of the candidate’s views on policy and regulations will be critical to the future of entrepreneurship and innovation in science and engineering. Both presidential candidates encourage innovation, protection of intellectual property and investment in research and development across the broad landscape of academia.

Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, will work to strengthen education, research and commercialization by facilitating public-private partnerships to ensure America remains at the forefront of innovation. She will promote funding to agencies affiliated to basic and applied research that are major drivers of innovation. She is supportive of collaborative consortia to accelerate new industries, providing valuable feedback to industry and sharing government-funded research results.

Hillary Clinton addresses the recent outbreaks of Ebola, Zika and MERS as a wake-up call to innovate and develop disease countermeasures. She has recognized an “innovation gap” between early phase vaccine discovery, and industrial-scale production and vaccine delivery. There is a need to engage stakeholders across industry, non-profits, foundations and government to bridge the gap and spur generation of a new set of vaccines, without hampering or violating the current progress made by our scientists all around the world. However, I question some of her innovation priorities. Is Clinton’s innovation plan for the development of next generation mobile networks 5G and its infrastructure necessary and important over other more pressing issues?

Republican Donald Trump’s freedom of expression and openness to newcomers also commits to invest in science, engineering and healthcare. He encourages innovation to be one of the great by-products of free market system to help make the lives of Americans better, safer and more prosperous. He will reduce the barriers for entrepreneurs to enter into markets and give consumers more options for the products they desire. Despite Trump’s business acumen and an agonist for closed borders, if elected, will he be the “disaster for innovation”?

There are scientists working at various federal agencies who shape the policy on food and safety, health, the environment, chemical standards and many other issues. Both the candidates ensure total transparency and accountability of scientific data without any political bias.

Hillary Clinton supports scientific integrity within science-based agencies, will strengthen the credibility of government research and facilitate open communication and public engagement. Hillary Clinton will fight for talented scientists and engineers from around the world to have a place in America to help the nation grow and innovate, including “Start-up” visas that will allow top entrepreneurs from abroad come to the US and create more jobs and opportunities for American workers.

Donald Trump’s approach to immigration is that individuals who legally sought an American education should be offered to stay and contribute to the economy.

Currently, I am an international immigrant scientist and management professional from India who has lived in America for over 15 years and is awaiting a green card (permanent residency status). I have studied at 3 US institutions, seen 4 US election campaigns, Democratic and Republican candidates in power. Over the years, I have seen many big promises being made on the campaign stage with minimum or no results often delivered. I believe in this country and my fellow citizens to make an educated judgement and responsible decision in selecting their Commander-in-Chief to secure the border, grow the economy, and support innovation and entrepreneurship for the betterment of this country and the world.

by Steve Marquis Fernandes






The above are opinions of Leaders of Tomorrow living in America on the choice faced on Tuesday by the US electorate and what it means for science and innovation. They do not constitute views from GBR.

GBR is not a political organisation, and as such it does not endorse either candidate for the US election. However, GBR’s core mission is to connect generations of current and future biotech leaders to address the grand global challenges and gaps. GBR believes emphatically that solutions for global problems will only arise through scientific discovery driving smart economies and underpinning effective policy-making; and that this should be among the many considerations that members of our community in the US take into account. Above all else, regardless of which candidate they prefer, we would urge those in the US GBR community to participate in the democratic process and vote.

Categories: Blog

Tags: US Election 2016, Research & Innovation Gap

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