On the Further Evolution of the Research!America Award for
Economic Impact on Medical and Health Research

Comments by

Eugene Garfield, Chairman Emeritus, Thomson ISI
3501 Market Street, Philadelphia PA 19104
Fax: 215-387-1266 - Tel. 215-243-2205
garfield@codex.cis.upenn.edu or www.eugenegarfield.org
at the Award Ceremony of the

Eugene Garfield Economic Impact of Medical and Health Research Award 2005

Sponsored by Research!America to
Dr. Kevin Murphy And Dr. Robert H. Topel

Washington, DC. October 25, 2005


This is our fourth annual award ceremony to honor significant scholarship that contributes to understanding the determinants of the economic impact of biomedical and health research. On the three previous occasions, I had the privilege of commenting briefly when David Meltzer, University of Chicago, David Cutler, Harvard University, and Sherry Glied, Columbia University, received their awards. I recently heard one of tonight’s awardees, Dr. Kevin Murphy, at the Royal Society Conference in London where he spoke on the very subject of the award. I look forward to the remarks of his co-author Robert H. Topel.

It has now become something of a tradition for me to say something about the historic origins of this award. It can be traced back about three decades ago to the pioneering work of Julius Comroe and Robert Dripps at the University of Pennsylvania,1 and the work of Hugh Fudenberg, then at the University of California, San Francisco.2 For the sake of brevity, I refer you to the remarks I made recently in Stasbourg where Mary Wooley, Sam Silverstein and I participated in a workshop on the possibilities for a Research!Europe.3  My remarks traced the origins of my interest in this area and can be found on my personal webpage.

The members of the Award Committee are well aware that demonstrating the impact of basic research is not a task amenable to cause and effect relationships. Indeed, the so-called “impact factor” has become a heated topic among science administrators, journal editors, and publishers. While some research evaluators suggest that scientometric impacts represent another valid way to measure the economic impact of research, especially when combined with other indicators, citation analysis is not a fully mature methodology. Topel and Murphy have given us a new perspective on measuring economic impact. Their work, like that of our previous winners, stands as an inspiration to other scholars to expand the horizons of this emerging field. As time goes by and the number of candidates increases, it will be a sign of maturity when the award committee suffers the agony of making hard choices before enjoying the ecstasy of the final selection and this annual event.

References :
1.  back to text Comroe J. H. and Dripps R.D., “Scientific Basis for Support of Biomedical Science,” Science 192(4235):105-11 (1976).

2.  back to text Fudenberg H.H.,  “Dollar Benefits of Biomedical-Research - Cost-Analysis,”  Journal of Laboratory and Clinical Medicine, 79(3): 353+ (1972).

3.  back to text Garfield., “The origins of my interest in the economic impact of R&D,” presented at the European Science Foundation Workshop, Strasbourg, France, May 26, 2005.