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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release October 21, 1993




The Congress has designated October 21, 1993, as "National Biomedical Research Day." On this day, we celebrate the central role played by biomedical research in improving human health and longevity, and we acknowledge the promise this wide-ranging endeavor holds for securing the future physical and mental well-being of people around the world. Biomedical research not only yields the requisite information that scientists and physicians need to prevent and treat diseases but also reveals the fundamental nature of life in humans, other animals, and plants.

There is an intriguing quality to biomedical research: A discovery does not always predict its future uses. As a consequence, it is essential that the Nation continue to champion broad-based studies of both the normal and the disease processes. These studies will yield a fundamental understanding of biological systems and will provide us with the foundation of knowledge needed to ensure successful responses to current and future health problems.

An event that took place 40 years ago illustrates how vital such fundamental knowledge is. In 1953, Nobel laureates Drs. James D. Watson and Francis H.C. Crick described the structure of DNA, the genetic material of all living things. Today, as a direct outcome of their basic research, gene therapy has been devised for children with severe combined immune deficiency; accurate diagnostic tests are available for many life-threatening diseases and conditions; and the genetic mechanisms underlying disorders like cystic fibrosis and Huntington's disease have been identified.

The discovery of the structure of DNA also set the stage for the development of recombinant DNA technology, out of which has blossomed the biotechnology industry. In just the past 10 years, some 1,300 biotechnology companies have been formed. Through biotechnology, chemists and biologists are able to design and produce novel medicines and vaccines for clinical use. Scientists have learned how to commandeer the cellular machinery of living organisms, so that these organisms produce needed proteins and other biological molecules. Researchers have also genetically "engineered" crop plants to make them hardier and resistant to pests. The success of the biotechnology industry has also enhanced the economic competitiveness of the United States in the world marketplace. There is no doubt that the future fruits of biotechnology, both medical and economic, will be even greater.

The continuing preeminence of the United States in biomedical research reflects the contributions of many groups of dedicated professionals at work in Federal agencies such as the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and in government-supported laboratories at universities, hospitals, and private research facilities. Teachers at all levels -- from those who encourage our kindergartners to those who train biomedical specialists -- are also helping to ensure the future success of biomedical research, an enterprise that cannot go forward without both strong practitioners and a supportive public.

Unraveling the mysteries of living organisms remains a daunting task. But, through biomedical research, the ceaseless whooping coughs of children have been silenced; smallpox no longer exacts a human toll anywhere on the Earth; and vaccines, treatments, and cures are at hand for many diseases. As the struggles continue against AIDS, cancer, heart and lung diseases, arthritis, diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and a host of other afflictions, we look to the successes of the biomedical community for our inspiration.

We look to the future with our eyes open and with unflagging support for continued biomedical research that is broad enough and deep enough to establish a firm foundation of knowledge from which effective cures and therapies will emerge.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, WILLIAM J. CLINTON, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim October 21, 1993, as National Biomedical Research Day. I invite the Governors of the 50 States and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the appropriate officials of all other jurisdictions under the American flag, to issue similar proclamations. I ask every beneficiary of biomedical research; that is, every citizen of this country, to acknowledge the true worth of biomedical research. I ask biomedical researchers, health care professionals, schools and universities, community organizations, and businesses to join in efforts to celebrate the successes of biomedical research and to promote this enterprise.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twentieth day of October, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and ninety-three, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and eighteenth.


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