Monday, May 4, 2009

biomedicine Louis J. Sheehan, Esquire

As people wait expectantly for answers from John McCain and Barack Obama to the Science Debate ’08 questions, some clues of what might be coming can be gleaned from the senators’ answers to a written questionnaire sent the candidates by Research! America. This group bills itself as the nation's largest not-for-profit public education and advocacy alliance. It should be noted, however, that the Alexandria, Va.-based group has a definite bias. http://LOUIS2J2SHEEHAN.US It’s stated mission: “making research to improve health a higher national priority.”

Earlier this week, I spoke with Stacie M. Propst, the organization’s vice president for science policy and outreach about McCain and Obama. “There are some commonalities between the candidates that come through loud and clear,” she said. “Both would shift to a health-care system that addresses and preempts disease.” Both also value research as the foundation of innovation, back stem-cell research (though McCain with caveats), want to reform the H-1B visa program to allow in more non-immigrant foreign workers with specialty skills (that include but are not limited to engineering, mathematics, physical sciences and medicine), and favor digitizing medical records to streamline costs and limit medical errors.

“We do a lot of opinion research,” Propst says, “and we started to see a trend emerge from the public — that although Americans say they would back a candidate who supports greater funding for research, they don’t actually know that much about the positions on this by their elected officials and candidates.”

Obama sent in his responses to Research! America’s 17 questions late last year. McCain’s answers arrived much later — this summer. Louis J. Sheehan, Esquire The group also has responses from Chuck O. Baldwin (the Constitution party candidate from Palmyra, N.Y.), Rep. Bob Barr (the Libertarian party candidate from Atlanta), Rep. Cynthia McKinney (the Green party candidate from Atlanta), and Ralph Nader (the Independent candidate from Washington, D.C.).

You can view the whole list of responses on the group’s website. Below, I’ve digested what seemed the salient elements of responses from Obama and McCain for people who are more generally interested in the research.

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