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"America Speaks" Poll Shows Health Research is Key to Economic Recovery

January 11, 2012
By Mary Woolley, President of Research!America

Research!America’s 12th edition of America Speaks, an annual summary of our public opinion polls, shows that Americans are deeply concerned about our country’s ability to create jobs and compete globally. In fact, 77 percent of those polled say that the U.S. is losing its competitive edge in science, technology and innovation and more than half of Americans (58 percent) do not believe we are making enough progress in medical research. Furthermore, the majority of Americans believe investing in health research (86 percent) is important to job creation and economic recovery.

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So much is at stake right now: our economic future, U.S. jobs and our global leadership. In this election year, we must make advancing health research a priority and part of the national dialogue.

As federal funding tightens, we are compromising discovery and the development of new products, which is important to patients and businesses alike. Incentives for industries to conduct research, including efforts to make the research and development tax credit permanent, are supported by many Americans. And most are willing to support higher taxes for research. Half of those surveyed said they would be willing to pay $1 per week more in taxes if they were certain their money would be spent for additional medical research.

Our public opinion polls indicate that Americans want viable solutions to improve our health, health care system and the economy. They see research as part the solution to rising health care costs and would like to see more of the health dollar dedicated toward research.

Similarly, careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) continue to receive broad support among Americans who believe the federal government should place more emphasis on increasing the number of young Americans who pursue these fields.

Other findings in America Speaks show:

  • 91 percent of Americans believe that research and development are important to their state’s economy;

  • 84 percent of Americans think it is important to invest in regulatory science to ensure the safety and efficiency of the drug and device development process; and

  • 87 percent of Americans think it is important that elected officials at all levels listen to advice from scientists and public health professionals;

These findings provide validation that Americans do not want to settle, and see their country fall behind in research and innovation. They want their country to remain resolute in its commitment toward advancing science and innovation.

As we face more budgetary challenges for health research in 2012, the community of stakeholders in research must continue to make the case that investing in health research will not only support the health of our nation, but also the prosperity of our country for years to come. Your voice from the front lines of science is essential in conveying what we could gain or lose with a robust or flat federal health budget and a sound and globally-competitive policy structure.

I invite you to take a look at our poll data summary, America Speaks, Volume 12 and to join the conversation about making research a priority this election season. Candidates who are running for office this year must hear from scientists and other stakeholders in the science enterprise; those who are elected without hearing from scientists are unlikely to become champions for science once they take office! Tell candidates why science is the key to better, more affordable health, and is key to driving the US economy. Please visit:

Mary Woolley is the president of Research!America, the nation’s largest nonprofit public education and advocacy alliance working to make research to improve health a higher national priority.