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The Future Postponed 2.0: Why Declining Investment in Basic Research Threatens a U.S. Innovation Deficit

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Basic research lies at the core of the U.S. innovation system. Most of the technologies that surround us started from breakthroughs in basic science. Examples are numerous and include smartphone components, magnetic resonance imaging and cancer therapies. Although it can take years for fundamental research to become practically useful, the payoff can be tremendous. This long time frame raises the concern of what cutting basic research budgets today will mean for technologies of tomorrow.

Like its predecessor report, which detailed 15 science opportunities ripe for advancement, The Future Postponed 2.0 provides a snapshot of 13 additional breakthrough opportunities for basic research and their potential long-term impacts. Leading researchers from numerous universities and institutions across the country contributed to this volume and covered topics as varied as human health, clean energy and outer space. These forward-looking case studies illustrate some of the ways in which fundamental research can lead to profound social and economic benefits and forward leaps in knowledge.

Join us for a discussion with national science leaders on the future of basic research and the kinds of scientific advances that are at risk in the current funding environment.

Introduction by Rush Holt, CEO of AAAS and Executive Publisher of Science


  • Maria T. Zuber, Chair of the National Science Board; E. A. Griswold Professor of Geophysics and Vice President for Research at MIT, where she has responsibility for research administration and policy at the Institute. She overseas MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory and over 60 research laboratories and centers on campus.
  • Marc Kastner, the president of the Science Philanthropy Alliance, a coalition of leading nonprofit institutions and foundations dedicated to increasing financial support for basic science research. Prior to leading the Alliance, Kastner had a long-time career in a variety of senior positions at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is the Chair of the Future Postponed 2.0 reports.
  • Andrea Ghez, distinguished professor of Physics & Astronomy and head of UCLA's Galactic Center Group, is a world-leading expert in observational astrophysics. She is an author of the Future Postponed 2.0 report.
  • Michele Pagano, the Chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology at the New York University School of Medicine and an HHMI Investigator. He is an author of the Future Postponed 2.0 report.

February 22, 2017
5:00pm - 6:00pm
Reception to follow

AAAS Headquarters
Auditorium, 2nd floor
12th and H Streets, N.W.
Washington, DC 20052


This talk is part of the monthly Colloquium Series offered by AAAS to provide a forum to explore timely topics relevant to science and society. If you would like to know more about the Series, or if you would like to propose a speaker, please contact