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HOME  > Past issues  > 2018 October 3 - 9  > Nobel Medicine Prize winner calls for increase in government budget for basic research
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2018 October 3 - 9 [SOCIAL ISSUES]
editorial 

Nobel Medicine Prize winner calls for increase in government budget for basic research

October 5, 2018
Akahata editorial (excerpts)

If the immune system is in place to protect the body from diseases, then why doesn't this system work against cancer cells? This is the question that Kyoto University Special Professor Honjo Tasuku tackled. Honjo and U.S. researcher James Allison were awarded the 2018 Nobel Medicine Prize for their contributions to answering this question and developing a drug which boosts the immune system's ability to fight tumor cells.

At a press conference following the Nobel prize announcement, Honjo said that a country that does not invest in life sciences has no future. He also said that if a country offers public support only for profitable research projects, it will eventually lag behind. Honjo stressed that it is important for the government to promote basic research in an organized way with a long-term perspective so that young scientists will be able to continue their careers with long term objectives in mind.

The Abe government has been promoting the policy of selection and concentration which allocates more money to competitive funding programs and less money on subsidies for national universities' operating expenses and other basic expenses. Abe's policy fueled competitions for research funds and nurtured the result-oriented atmosphere in the academic community.

In addition, the Abe government in June in its integrated innovation strategy decided to introduce a system to provide a larger amount of government subsidies to institutions which obtained a larger amount of private funding. This will intensify competition for public funding and result in financial hardships among researchers of basic science, which will have difficulties in securing funds from the private sector because these researchers cannot produce immediate results.

The government should listen carefully to Honjo and other scientists, and change policies to put more emphasis on the promotion of basic research.

Past related articles:
> Nagoya Univ. Charter of Physics Dept. : research shall be democratically conducted [November 25, 2016]
> 34 science faculty deans call for more funds and staff for basic research [November 1, 2016]
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