Craig Mello’s Letter to President Bush

8/21/07

Editor’s note: The following is a letter written by Nobel Laureate Craig Mello to President George W. Bush on November 26, 2006. For more on the letter and its outcome see this post.

Dear Mr. President:

I wanted to take this opportunity to make you aware of an exciting advance in medical research. This discovery, called RNA interference (or RNAi), was recognized this October with the Nobel Prize just eight years after its first description, and only five years after its first application in the study of human disease. Coupled with the human genome map, RNAi is now rapidly advancing our understanding of the inner workings of the human body and of the underlying causes of disease. RNAi holds great promise as a direct therapeutic intervention for devastating diseases including Alzheimer’s, Cancer, Lou Gehrig’s disease, HIV, Diabetes and many others. These include diseases like Pandemic Flu that pose serious threats to our National Security.

Mr. President, RNAi is so new that no other President has had an opportunity to make policy decisions that will capitalize on its potential. RNAi is of broad relevance to both public health and to the vital biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries that employ so many of our citizens. Importantly, RNAi is a natural process that occurs in all our cells, and its use to treat and study disease raises no ethical concerns.

RNAi was discovered in the United States through research sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and although RNAi is already speeding the discovery of new drugs and therapies, more can and must be done. Most importantly, we must continue to invest in medical research, both to alleviate human suffering, and to insure that this country maintains its leadership in the biomedical sciences. This investment will yield new discoveries, while allowing researchers around the country to rapidly advance the many avenues of research that are now open to us thanks to RNAi.

Mr President, I sincerely hope that you will act without delay to bring RNAi and its implications to the attention of Congress and to the people of our country. It would be very appropriate for you to mention RNAi and your intention to increase NIH funding in your State of the Union Address in January. The discovery of RNAi along with our nation’s sweep of the Nobel prizes in the sciences and economics are great news for our country. Your action now can ensure that the United States of America continues to lead the world in the advancement of science and technology. I look forward to the opportunity to meet you on the 30th of November and to provide you with further information.

Very Sincerely Yours,

Craig C. Mello
Blais Professor of Molecular Medicine
University of Massachusetts Medical School

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  • bill ghormley

    Excellent coverage — and broken field running to get through the crowd — how is this UMass effort going to dovetail with Alnylam and other efforts?

    BG