[Fcs-faculty] FW: Open letter to Congress from 25 Nobel Laureates

Dr. Paula Smith paula.smith at fcs.utah.edu
Wed Sep 1 21:57:02 MDT 2004



Hello FCS faculty,


I thought you may be interested in the following letter in support of open
access. According to Margaret Landesman, the Head of Collection Development
at the Marriott Library, the University has sent a letter backing the House
Appropriations Committee's directive to NIH. It was signed by the President
and both Senior VPS .


Linda Keiter  



 -----Original Message-----
From: American Scientist Open Access Forum
Behalf Of Peter Suber
Sent: Monday, August 30, 2004 2:22 PM
Subject: [SOAF] Open letter to Congress from 25 Nobel Laureates


An Open Letter to the U.S. Congress
Signed by 25 Nobel Prize Winners

August 26, 2004

Dear Members of Congress:

As scientists and Nobel laureates, we are writing today to express our
strong support for the House Appropriations Committee's recent direction to
NIH to develop an open, taxpayer access policy requiring that a complete
electronic text of any manuscript reporting work supported by NIH grants or
contracts be supplied to the National Library of Medicine's PubMed Central.
We believe the time is now for all Members of Congress to support this
enlightened policy.

Science is the measure of the human race's progress.  As scientists and
taxpayers too, we therefore object to barriers that hinder, delay or block
the spread of scientific knowledge supported by federal tax dollars
including our own works.

Thanks to the Internet, today the American people have access to several
billion pages of information, frequently about disease and medical
conditions.  However, the published results of NIH-supported medical
research for which they already have paid are all too often inaccessible to

When a woman goes online to find what treatment options are available to
battle breast cancer, the cutting-edge, peer-reviewed research remains
behind a high-fee barrier.  Families looking to read clinical trial updates
for a loved one with Huntington's disease search in vain  because they do
not have a journal subscription.  Libraries, physicians, health care
workers, students, researchers and thousands of academic institutions and
companies are hindered by the costs and delays in making research widely

There's no question, open access truly expands shared knowledge across
scientific fields -- it is the best path for accelerating multi-disciplinary
breakthroughs in research.

Journal subscriptions can be prohibitively expensive.  In the single field
of biology, journals average around $1,400 and the price is almost double
that in chemistry.  These already-high prices are rising fast, far in excess
of inflation and the growth of library budgets.  An individual who cannot
obtain access to a journal in a library may buy copies of solo articles they
need, but that can cost them $30 or more for each article.

The National Institutes of Health has the means today to promote open access
to taxpayer-funded research  through the National Library of Medicine.  If
the proposal put forth in the House of Representatives is adopted, NIH
grantees may be expected to provide to the Library an electronic copy of the
final version of all manuscripts accepted for publication, after peer
review, in legitimate medical and scientific journals.  At the time of
publication, NIH would make these reports freely available to all through
their digital library archive, PubMed Central (PMC).

There is widespread acknowledgement that the current model for scientific
publishing is failing us.  An increase in the volume of research output,
rising prices and static library budgets mean that libraries are struggling
to purchase subscriptions to all the scientific journals needed. 

Open access, however, will not mean the end of medical and scientific
journals at all.  They will continue to exercise peer-review over submitted
papers as the basis for deciding which papers to accept for publication,
just as they do now.

In addition, since open access will apply only to NIH-funded research;
journals will still contain significant numbers of articles not covered by
this requirement and other articles and commentary invaluable to the science
community.  Journals will continue to be the hallmark of achievement in
scientific research, and we will depend on them.

The trend towards open access is gaining momentum.  Japan, France and the
United Kingdom are beginning to establish their own digital repositories for
sharing content with NIH's PubMed Central.  Free access to taxpayer funded
research globally may soon be within grasp, and make possible the freer flow
of medical knowledge that strengthens our capacity to find cures and to
improve lives.

As the undersigned Nobel Laureates, we are committed to open access.  We ask
Congress and NIH to ensure that all taxpayers get their money's worth.  Our
investment in scientific research is not well served by a process that
limits taxpayer access instead of expanding it.  We specifically ask you to
support the House Appropriations Committee language as well as NIH
leadership in adopting this long overdue reform.

Signed by Twenty Five Nobel Laureates

Name, Category of Nobel Prize Awarded, Year

Peter Agre, Chemistry, 2003
Sidney Altman, Chemistry, 1989
Paul Berg, Chemistry, 1980
Michael Bishop, Physiology or Medicine, 1989
Baruch Blumberg, Physiology or Medicine, 1976
Gunter Blobel, Physiology or Medicine, 1999
Paul Boyer, Chemistry, 1997
Sydney Brenner, Physiology or Medicine, 2002
Johann Deisenhofer, Chemistry, 1988
Edmond Fischer, Physiology or Medicine, 1992
Paul Greengard, Physiology or Medicine, 2000
Leland Hartwell, Physiology or Medicine, 2001
Robert Horvitz, Physiology or Medicine, 2002
Eric Kandel, Physiology or Medicine, 2000
Arthur Kornberg, Physiology or Medicine, 1959
Roderick MacKinnon, Chemistry, 2003
Kary Mullis, Chemistry, 1993
Ferid Murad, Physiology or Medicine, 1998
Joseph Murray, Physiology or Medicine, 1990
Marshall Nirenberg, Physiology or Medicine, 1968
Stanley Prusiner, Physiology or Medicine, 1997
Richard Roberts, Physiology or Medicine, 1993
Hamilton Smith, Physiology or Medicine, 1978
Harold Varmus, Physiology or Medicine, 1989
James Watson, Physiology or Medicine, 1962

Press Contact:
Dr. Richard J. Roberts 
(Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine,1993) 
Tel: (978) 927-3382 
Fax: (978) 921-1527 
Email: roberts at neb.com 

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