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Donald Trump, Scientist

On Tuesday 8th November the citizens of the mighty U.S of A made what may have seemed unthinkable a year ago, a reality. The 45th president of The United States will be Donald J Trump. Obviously, this is worrying for many reasons mainly because he is unpredictable, but what could this mean for US science? Trump has been quite vocal about his scepticism of climate change, and the human led causes of such, and he has also stated that he holds the belief of the causal effect of vaccinations and autism. But, will these beliefs or others yet to be voiced, manifest themselves in harmful policies, or will his focus on ‘innovation’ and strengthening the US economy prove positive for research? Some are saying that the rumours that Newt Gingrich is pegged for a top job in a Trump administration is a positive step, as he is publicly proresearch, supporting a bid to double the NIH budget when he was speaker for the house of representatives, and since has backed increases in many funding agencies.

Idealogically there are a couple of areas where Trump might show his hand, including, among others, as already mentioned climate change as well as the use of human embryonic stem cells for research. The president elect was vocal during his campaigning about his desire to reverse the USA’s stance on global warming, repeal Obama’s climate change regulations including the Clean Power Plan, strip back the Environmental Protection Agency, and remove the United States from the Paris Climate Accord. This has lead some to speculate on the rise of China in this field, already leading the world on renewables. What effect this will have on Trumps decision will have to be seen. On the use of stem cells, many scientists are fearful that Obama’s decision to allow the use of human embryonic stem cells in research will also be repealed under a Trump government, compounded by the addition of vice president elect Pence who opposed the decision by Obama to allow research on human embryonic stem cells on ethical grounds. In regards to protecting scientific research as a whole many commentators are suggesting playing to Trumps strong business sense. It is imperative that scientists and those involved in raising the profile of research continue to engage business leaders, policy makers and the public, keeping science relevant and making the case for a strong research sector in a strong American economy.

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