Basic research versus applied science: Which research would you fund?

Public investment into scientific R&D has plateaued across geographies—save for a handful of economies like China. There are concerns that basic research has been the most hit by this thriftiness. Many scientists believe that fundamental science research is an explorative process. Unluckily, funding agencies do not always understand its nature and often equate it to near-market applied research that they want translated into specific outcomes and proof of concepts, right at the grant application stage. This situation may in fact be detrimental to the long-term cause of scientific research.

In this backdrop, FASEB, the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, holds an annual Stand up for Science competition. Presently in its 2nd year, this competition aims at enlargening awareness of US federal funding support for biological and biomedical research by inviting movie submissions that shed light on this topic in an engaging way.

This year’s winning movie supposes a situation—it’s the year 1960 and you have $Ten to spend on science. Would you spend it on:


(a) developing an affordable treatment for diabetes, or

(b) conducting basic research on how bacteria protect themselves?



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