Public Release: 

Second annual Golden Goose Award ceremony honors odd research with major societal benefits

Awards go to research that led to kidney exchange, diabetes medicine, biotech industry

Association of American Universities


IMAGE: Seven researchers will Receive the Golden Goose Award tonight. view more

Credit: Golden Goose Award

Seven researchers, including two Nobel Prize winners, will be honored today at the second annual Golden Goose Award ceremony, celebrating researchers whose seemingly odd or obscure federally funded research turned out to have a significant impact on society.

The awardees will be honored at a ceremony on Capitol Hill, where they will receive their awards from a bipartisan group of Members of Congress. The scientists are:

  • David Gale (deceased), Lloyd Shapley, and Alvin Roth, whose work, decades apart, grew from theoretical mathematical algorithms about marriage stability and moneyless markets 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, listed below, which believe that federally funded basic scientific research is the cornerstone of American innovation and essential

to our economic growth, health, global competitiveness, and national security. The award recipients were selected by a panel of respected scientists and university research leaders.

"It's easy to mock researchers," Rep. Cooper said, "but we couldn't live without their brilliant breakthroughs. Today's awardees gave unexpected gifts to mankind. Fiscal discipline is important, but without science we'll never see the next discovery."

Rep. Cooper and other Republican and Democratic Members of Congress who support the Golden Goose Award are expected to speak and hand out the awards at today's ceremony.

"The unexpected benefits of basic research have been substantial, a point well-demonstrated by the work of this year's Golden Goose awardees," said Alan Leshner, CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, one of the organizations that created the award.

The MC of the event will be Paul McKellips. McKellips, a former journalist, works with the Foundation for Biomedical Research.

To see a new video about the awardees, read their individual stories, and learn more about the Golden Goose Award, go to


American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS): The American Association for the Advancement of Science is an international nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing science around the world by serving as an educator, leader, spokesperson and professional association. In addition to organizing membership activities, AAAS publishes the Science family of journals as well as many scientific newsletters, books and reports, and spearheads programs that raise the bar of understanding for science worldwide.

Association of American Universities (AAU): The Association of American Universities is a nonprofit association of 59 leading US public and private research universities and two Canadian counterparts. Founded in 1900, AAU today focuses on issues that are important to research-intensive universities, such as funding for research, research policy issues, and graduate and undergraduate education. AAU member universities are on the leading edge of innovation, scholarship, and solutions that contribute to the nation's economy, security, and well-being.

Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (A۰P۰L۰U): The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) is a research, policy, and advocacy organization representing 218 public research universities, land-grant institutions, state university systems, and related organizations. Founded in 1887, APLU is the nation's oldest higher education association with member institutions in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and four U.S. territories. Annually, member campuses enroll more than 3.8 million undergraduates and 1.2 million graduate students, award over 1 million degrees, employ nearly 1 million faculty and staff, and conduct more than $37 billion in university-based research.

Breakthrough Institute: The Breakthrough Institute is a paradigm-shifting think tank committed to modernizing liberal thought for the 21st Century. Our core values are integrity, imagination and audacity. Our goal is to accelerate the transition to a future where all the world's inhabitants can enjoy secure, free, prosperous, and fulfilling lives on an ecologically vibrant planet.

Progressive Policy Institute (PPI): The Progressive Policy Institute is an independent, innovative and high-impact DC-based think tank founded in 1989. As the original "idea mill" for President Bill Clinton's New Democrats, PPI has a long legacy of promoting break-the-mold ideas aimed at economic growth, national security and modern, performance-based government. Today, PPI's unique mix of political realism and policy innovation continues to make it a leading source of pragmatic and creative ideas. PPI is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization.

Richard Lounsbery Foundation: The Richard Lounsbery Foundation aims to enhance national strengths in science and technology through support of programs in the following areas: science and technology components of key US policy issues; elementary and secondary science and math education; historical studies and contemporary assessments of key trends in physical and biomedical sciences; and start-up assistance for establishing the infrastructure of research projects.

The Science Coalition (TSC): The Science Coalition is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization of the nation's leading public and private research universities. It is dedicated to sustaining strong federal funding of basic scientific research as a means to stimulate the economy, spur innovation, and drive America's global competitiveness.

Task Force on American Innovation: The Task Force is a coalition of business and business organizations, scientific societies, and higher education associations founded in 2004 to advocate for greater federal investments for basic research in the physical sciences and engineering. The group focuses on the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy Office of Science, the Department of Defense research budget, the National Institute of Standards and Technology labs at the Department of Commerce, and NASA.

United for Medical Research: United for Medical Research is a coalition of leading research institutions, patient and health advocates, and private industry that have joined together to seek steady increases in funding for the National Institutes of Health.


Other organizations sponsoring the 2013 Golden Goose Awards:

American Astronomical Society
American Educational Research Association
American Mathematical Society
American Psychological Association
American Society for Microbiology
American Sociological Association
APS Physics
Association for Psychological Science
Association of American Medical Colleges
The Biophysical Society
Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology
Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation
Texas Instruments

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