And the Nobel Prize winner goes to … Barack Obama
NEW YORK – Martin Chalfie, a winner of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry announced on Wednesday, said one of the first things he wanted to do was join a group of Nobel winners who last month endorsed Democrat Barack Obama for president.
“We really need to have more support for science in the White House, and we haven’t had that in the last eight years,” Chalfie said in an interview at his home in New York. He is a professor of biological sciences at Columbia University.
Chalfie said he called an old friend, Robert Horvitz, who won the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 2002, in order to join with the Nobel laureates in the sciences who have published an open letter in support of Obama. Horvitz was one of the 61 Nobel winners who signed the letter, dated Sept. 25.
“I said, ‘Bob, the one thing I really want to do is, I understand there’s a list of Nobel Prize winners supporting Barack Obama, and I want to get my name on the list,’” Chalfie said.
In the letter, the Nobel winners in medicine, physics and chemistry wrote: “The country urgently needs a visionary leader who can ensure the future of our traditional strengths in science and technology and who can harness those strengths to address many of our greatest problems: energy, disease, climate change, security, and economic competitiveness.
“We are convinced that Senator Barack Obama is such a leader,” they wrote.
“During the administration of George W. Bush, vital parts of our country’s scientific enterprise have been damaged by stagnant or declining federal support. The government’s scientific advisory process has been distorted by political considerations. As a result, our once dominant position in the scientific world has been shaken and our prosperity has been placed at risk. We have lost time critical for the development of new
ways to provide energy, treat disease, reverse climate change, strengthen our security, and improve our economy.
“We have watched Senator Obama’s approach to these issues with admiration. We especially applaud his emphasis during the campaign on the power of science and technology to enhance our nation’s competitiveness. In particular, we support the measures he plans to take – through new initiatives in education and training, expanded research funding, an unbiased process for obtaining scientific advice, and an appropriate balance of basic and applied research – to meet the nation’s and the world’s most urgent needs.
“Senator Obama understands that Presidential leadership and federal investments in science and technology are crucial elements in successful governance of the world’s leading country,” they wrote.
Photo credit: Reuters/Chip East (Martin Chalfie explains his work to journalists while his dog Bernie does tricks in his apartment)