Letter from Vannevar Bush to W. W. Palmer, Isaiah Bowman, Henry Allen Moe, and Irvin Stewart
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2 (201,765 Bytes)
1945-05-31 (May 31, 1945)
Palmer, Walter W.
Moe, Henry Allen
Original Repository: Oregon State University. Library. Ava Helen and Linus Pauling Papers
This item is in the public domain. It may be used without permission.
Medical Subject Headings (MeSH):
Research Support as Topic
The Molecular Basis of Disease
May 31, 1945
After careful study of the reports of your Committees I have prepared my report to the President and enclose a copy for your
criticism and suggestion. The content of my report is based largely on the very thoughtful and constructive studies made
by your committees. Although I could not include all of your conclusions and recommendations, every effort has been made
to emphasize the basic points which must be accepted if these recommendations are to be implemented by positive action. I
am including the reports of your committees as appendices to my report for it is important that the full results of these
studies be presented.
A single mechanism for support of scientific research and scientific education seems essential. The program is a unitary
one, and to split it among several independent agencies would, in my opinion, be neither feasible nor wise. In proposing
an overall mechanism I have endeavored to select the best suggestions on this subject from among those proposed by the several
committees. We will have a further opportunity to consider the mechanism at such time as legislation is drafted. In preparing
the chapter on "Means to the End" I have had the following points in mind in regard to the mechanism:
1. It should adequately represent public interest.
2. Membership should be so defined as to avoid domination by any small group.
3. As with the successful private foundations, the top board of trustees should be truly representative of the public interests
and not composed primarily of representatives from those groups which will be the recipients of support. At the same time
the top trustees should be persons of broad interest and experience and understanding and appreciation of the peculiarities
of scientific research and education, for without such knowledge they could not intelligently formulate the broad policies
4. The subsidiary groups under the main board should be primarily those having intimate knowledge of the fields involved.
They should be broadly representative of the scientific groups concerned, but should also contain sufficient representation
of the general public interest to insure against domination by any faction.
5. Stability of support is essential, but this should come about through the sympathetic understanding and support of Congress
and not through devices to lessen the full responsibility to Congress for the use of public funds. While short-term gains
might be greater through some mechanism not annually responsible to Congress for its program, the only long-term assurance
of interested and continuous support is through the adoption of this activity by Congress as one of its own and the desire
to see its purposes furthered. It will require education of Congress to understand the nature of scientific research, its
long-term character, the fact that the goal is to promote a vigorous and healthy flow of new scientific knowledge, and that
immediate and specific results on projects should not be looked for nor expected. Congress should learn to look for the results
of this program in the progress which we make in the battle against disease, the increase in new products and industries and
jobs, and in the flowering of our scientific talent, for those are the rewards to the nation from the advance of the frontiers
of knowledge and from the vision and understanding appreciation of the Congress which supports such activities.
The summary entitled "The Gist of the Report" is not included, for this will be in the form of a press release and
hence subject to revision up until the final date of printing.
I am sending this draft directly to the members of each committee and request that criticisms and comments reach me not later
than Wednesday, June 6th. Our schedule now requires that the material be in the hands of the printer not later than the
morning of June 7th. Printed copies of the full report will be sent to the members of each Committee as soon as the report
is released by the President.
I shall greatly appreciate your criticisms and suggestions and regret that our schedule leaves you so little time for review
of the enclosed.