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August 31, 2016

What Obama Leaves Behind

  • Executive
  • Genetics/Genomics
  • Neuroscience

GenomeWeb – President Obama will leave office in less than six months, so Nature News has set out to explore what kind of legacy he leaves behind for such issues as climate change, biomedicine, scientific integrity, space research, and more.

Early in his administration, Obama overturned restrictions on research using embryonic stem cells and later launched initiatives to map the brain and cure cancer.

Unfortunately, however, Congress' opposition to the president has meant that those initiatives have not translated into "significant funding gains" for the NIH, NatureNews says. Inflation has eaten into the agency's flat research budgets.

And although the Brain Research Through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) initiative, the Precision Medicine Initiative, and the Cancer Moonshot will make up the bulk of Obama's legacy, these programs are likely to come at the cost of basic research funding, the article adds.

And as scientific integrity goes, though Obama has made it a priority to reduce political interference and increase transparency in the sciences, this administration has nevertheless not been shy when it comes exerting its influence over science, Nature News says.

"There are structures in place that threaten scientific integrity and encourage the injection of politics into matters that are supposed to be scientific or technical," Georgetown University law professor Lisa Heinzerling tells Nature News. Heinzerling worked at the EPA for two years under Obama.

"We have a lot of new policies and procedures in place that are tremendously beneficial," Union of Concerned Scientists analyst Gretchen Goldman tells Nature News. "But what we're finding is that there's more work to be done."