Obama Rolls Out List of Nobel Supporters

Jeff tries to explain how government works to readers of Science.

Sixty-one Nobelists today announced that their votes would go to Senator Barack Obama (D–IL) for U.S. president, because he has promised that his administration will give science a major role in solving the country's most pressing problems.

Medicine Nobelist Harold Varmus, president of Memorial-Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City and an adviser to the Obama campaign, said that Obama's pledge of "sustained and predictable increases" in funding basic research is a major reason for what Varmus characterized as "widespread support" in the scientific community for the Democratic candidate. In a teleconference with reporters that included chemistry Nobelist Peter Agre and medicine Nobelist H. Robert Horvitz, Varmus also cited Obama's pledge to "encourage innovation, improve education, and restore scientific integrity" to federal agencies. He said that Obama's commitment to science would cost an additional $15 billion a year, to be offset by reducing the number of federal earmarks, ending the war in Iraq, and making government purchasing more efficient.

Asked after the teleconference which science agencies would receive priority, the Obama campaign skirted the question, instead reiterating the candidate's pledge to "double the budgets of key science agencies" over the next decade. Both Obama and Republican nominee Senator John McCain (AZ) have promised to appoint a presidential science adviser early in their respective administrations and to give that person power to shape other appointments and White House policies. But McCain has been less specific about his research spending plans, mixing his support for increases with a call for a 1-year freeze on all domestic discretionary spending.

The full list of Nobel laureates, plus their letter of support, can be found at: http://obama.3cdn.net/6667d14fd1301d9e8e_dbg0mvxzz.pdf. The science and technology platforms of each candidate are available at their respective Web sites, barackobama.com and johnmccain.com.

Posted in Scientific Community