Subject: An open letter to American universities and agencies
Jan. 31, 2009
Dear Sir or Madam,
You are probably aware that Canadian researchers have long made do with comparatively small amounts of funding, particularly relative to colleagues in the United States, but that they have nevertheless been very productive (Nature 430: 311-316). To be sure, you are familiar with many of the current international projects of which Canada is a leader. You may also have noticed that many Canadians have returned after working in the United States and elsewhere, and that prominent researchers from the United States and elsewhere have also opted to move to Canada to pursue their research interests.
You also are no doubt aware that the recent federal budget released by the minority government of Canada contains no new funding for Genome Canada and requires the three major funding councils (CIHR, NSERC, and SSHRC) to find savings of $87 million. You may also be aware that this government has begun imposing “priority areas” for research support, the majority of which are short-term and applied in nature, and that they have decided to launch scholarships for a small number of students that are, in effect, significantly larger than the average starting grants for primary investigators.
In contrast, your new President has chosen to make a major investment in scientific research as part of an economic stimulus package. He clearly recognizes that scientific expertise and knowledge will be crucial for the long-term health of your citizens and your economic future. In particular, it is likely that you will be expanding your efforts in important areas of cutting edge science, such as genomics.
In light of this, we ask that you kindly refrain from recruiting our best scientists, who may soon become open to moving their programs to your fine nation. As you can understand, we require these individuals to maintain Canada’s scientific productivity and credibility, as well as to teach in our universities and to train our future generations of investigators. We also ask, if you would be so kind, that you not take over major international initiatives in which Canada has heretofore assumed the leading role. Finally, we ask for your patience as we struggle to live up to our commitments in joint research efforts with our colleagues in the USA.
We are deeply hopeful that this represents only a temporary setback, but we thank you in advance for your understanding during this difficult time.