Innovation In Depth

Connecting science and policy might increase support for innovation.
Nov 02, 2010
Volume 34, Issue 11

Angie Drakulich
In late September, the US House of Representatives' Research and Science Education Subcommittee held a hearing on the science of science and innovation policy to discuss various federal initiatives in the science and technology field.

One such initiative, the Science of Science and Innovation Policy program (SciSIP), was established in 2005 by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to gain an understanding of how policy decisions affect innovation and science and engineering research. The interdisciplinary program includes outreach and education as well as research investment and has three major goals: advancing evidence based science and innovation policy decision making; building a scientific community to study science and innovation policy; and leveraging the experience of other countries.

Earlier this year, the Obama Administration launched a similar program, called the Science and Technology for America's Reinvestment: Measuring the Effect on Innovation, Competitiveness and Science program, better known as STAR METRICS. This federal–academic partnership is aimed at developing a system to track and quantify the effect of federal science investments on economic growth, workforce outcomes, scientific knowledge, and social outcomes. The latter project includes collaboration with the European Union.

"Federally funded basic and applied scientific research has had a significant impact on innovation, economic growth, and America's social well-being," Julia Lane, MD, program director of SciSIP for NSF, told the Congressional subcommittee at the September meeting.

"We have little information about the impact of individual projects and programs, whether federally or privately funded. We have little information about the impact of science agencies....," she added. "A deeper understanding of the changing framework in which scientific and technical innovation occurs would help policymakers decide how best to make and manage limited public R&D investments to exploit the most promising and important opportunities."

To start gathering and making use of this type of information, the White House National Science and Technology Council interagency group for the science of science policy is meeting in December in Washington, DC, to identify a joint agenda for federal agencies and the research community. Their work and that of SciSIP can be followed online at http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/ostp and http://www.scienceofsciencepolicy.net/scisipcentral.aspx respectively.

In the pharmaceutical sector, the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS) is also celebrating innovation through their awards programs. At this month's Annual Meeting & Exposition in New Orleans, AAPS, in conjunction with the International Pharmaceutical Federation's Pharmaceutical Sciences World Congress (see the AAPS Guest Editorial on page 12, and the FIP Viewpoint article on page 146), will be honoring innovators young and old for their work in the pharmaceutical sciences. Awards identify outstanding work in research and development, education, authorship, service, and other areas.

During the conference, Editor-in-Chief Michelle Hoffman and I will be talking to many of the award recipients about their research and inspirations. We hope you will have a chance to meet some of these bright individuals during the show. If you are unable to attend, plesae visit http://PharmTech.com/ in early December to listen to the podcast interviews.

Along the same lines that Dr. Lane explained to Congress, the more we get to know the people innovating in the lab and how their work might affect science and healthcare, the better we'll be able to support their research and the scientific community at large. As we all know, no one becomes successful without a little help. We all can be advocates for innovation.

Angie Drakulich is the managing editor of Pharmaceutical Technology.

» Read Angie's blogs at http://blog.PharmTech.com/.

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