Six Researchers Recognized for High-Impact Work With Seemingly Humble Beginnings

Marshall Bradshaw of AAAS reports the news from the 2013 Golden Goose Award ceremony. | AAAS/Carla Schaffer

Six researchers, including two Nobel Prize winners, were honored yesterday at the second annual Golden Goose Award ceremony, which celebrates seemingly odd or obscure federally funded research that turned out to have a significant impact on society.

The 19 September ceremony took place on Capitol Hill, where the researchers received their awards from a bipartisan group of Members of Congress. The 2013 awardees are:

David Gale (deceased), Lloyd Shapley, and Alvin Roth, whose work, decades apart, grew from theoretical mathematical algorithms about marriage stability and moneyless markets. This research led to school choice programs for urban school systems, the program that matches new medical school graduates with their first hospital residencies, and the national kidney exchange that matches compatible patients and donors from around the country. Shapley and Roth were awarded Nobel Prizes in 2012. (Gale, having died, was not eligible for a Nobel.)

John Eng, a medical researcher and practicing physician whose study of the poisonous venom produced by the Gila monster led to a drug that protects millions of diabetics from such complications as blindness, kidney failure and nerve damage.

Thomas Brock and Hudson Freeze, whose discovery of a heat-resistant microorganism at Yellowstone National Park helped make possible the biotechnology industry and the genomics revolution.

The purpose of the Golden Goose Award is to demonstrate the human and economic benefits of federally funded research by highlighting examples of seemingly obscure or unusual studies that have led to major breakthroughs and have had a significant impact on society. Such breakthroughs may include development of life saving medicines and treatments; game-changing social and behavioral insights; and major technological advances related to national security, energy, the environment, communications, and public health.

The Golden Goose Award was originally the idea of Representative Jim Cooper (D-TN). It was created and jointly launched by a coalition of organizations that believe that federally funded, basic scientific research is the cornerstone of American innovation and essential to the country’s economic growth, health, global competitiveness and national security.

AAAS was one of the founding organizations that created the award, along with the Association of American Universities (AAU), the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), the Breakthrough Institute, the Progressive Policy Institute (PPI), the Richard Lounsbery Foundation, The Science Coalition (TSC), the Task Force on American Innovation, and United for Medical Research.

Learn more about the Golden Goose Awards and the 2013 winners.