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The American Society for Microbiology (ASM), representing over 42,000 scientists, is concerned about the inadequate resources for FY 2001 that the House and the Senate Appropriations Committee have allocated to the Department of Energy's Office of Science. The ASM urges Congress to fund the DOE Office of Science at the level of $3.1 billion requested by the Administration. This level of funding will strengthen the nation's research capabilities across all sectors of science.
The DOE Office of Science provides the primary source of support for the physical sciences and is an essential partner in areas of biological and environmental sciences, as well as mathematics, computing and engineering. The Office of Science complements the scientific programs of the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation and supports the use of synchrotron facilities by biomedical researchers. Synchrotrons, primarily supported by the DOE, have become essential for producing atomic-level resolution of macromolecular structures through X-ray crystallography, a primary tool of modern biology. In this regard, the ASM urges Congress to fund the upgrade of the Stanford synchrotron. Delays in access to synchrotron beamlines are becoming a major roadblock in biological research.
DOE's basic research programs contribute to our understanding of life and disease and play a key role in finding solutions to environmental and energy problems confronting the country and the world. The DOE Office of Science supports long-term, peer reviewed basic research in many areas of science in universities and colleges across the United States, contributing enormously to the knowledge base and training of the next generation of scientists. The DOE Office of Science has major accomplishments. The DOE initiated the human genome project and, subsequently, the microbial genome program which has supported the complete sequencing of 13 microbial genomes, including the first archael sequence establishing the modern three-branch view of life on earth. Because microbes make up over 60 percent of the earth's biomass and have existed in diverse environments for almost 4 billion years, the uses of information from microbial sequence studies have enormous implications for future scientific discovery and applications. Microbial research is leading to solutions to challenges in environmental cleanup of toxic wastes, the development of new pharmaceutical products, new forms of energy production, understanding and detecting biowarfare agents and gaining novel insights into the biological underpinnings of climate change and the role microbes play in the processing of carbon and nitrogen on earth. The DOE has also developed numerous technical advances that have made genome sequencing cheaper and faster.
The ASM encourages Congress to maintain its commitment to the Department of Energy research programs, which are so vital to continued scientific discovery and US scientific leadership. Thank you for your support of science.
Department of Energy Fact Sheet
The Department of Energy and the Human Genome Project Major Accomplishments
Making the Human Genome project possible
DOE investments in basic research contribute to the Human Genome Project
DOE sequencing successes