The Importance of Increased Prioritization of Investment in STEM

A Congressional Research Service study cites future difficulties that the United States may experience in competing globally due to a current failure to invest robustly science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education, research, and workforce development.[1] United States research and development has decreased from a world share of 37% to 30% since the year 2001.[2] United States research and development funding has declined in every fiscal year since 2010.[3]

Ebola Image

Image: Ebola Virus Particles. Image Credit: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health [9]

The America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education, and Science Act (COMPETES) Act addresses concerns regarding competitiveness by facilitating STEM education for children in kindergarten through postdoctoral education.[4] Although billions of dollars are invested in America COMPETES, this small investment will pale in comparison to the losses the United Staes will sustain by forfeiting its number one position in the innovation and technology sector. Determining factors of outcomes will include geography, STEM specialty, the level of the job that is to be filled (eg. requiring Bachelor’s degree or higher), and whether or not one is comparing STEM fields with non-STEM fields. A more diverse workforce is needed, as not enough underrepresented minorities are being trained and prepared to meet competitive workforce needs (e.g. African- Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans).[5]

The United States has invested $429 billion on research and development compared with $208 billion in China (a massive sum considering that China is still a developing nation) and $146 billion in Japan.[6] China’s share of high-tech manufacturing is 24% of the world share compared with a United States share of 27%.[7] China (whose world share of research and development has increased from 4% to 15% since 2001) and South Korea have made rapid gains in technology and innovation and may soon overtake the United States in competitiveness if action is not taken, soon.[8]

Dorkina Myrick, MD, PhD, MPP, is a physician-scientist and pathologist trained at the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Myrick also previously served as a Senior Health Policy Advisor on the United States Senate. She obtained her Master of Public Policy degree at the University of Oxford in Oxford, England. Dr. Myrick is currently a JD candidate at the Boston University School of Law.


[1] Congressional Research Service

[2] “US lead in science and technology shrinking.” National Science Board, National Science Foundation. Press Release 14-022.

[3] id

[4] Public Law 110-69. “America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education, and Science (COMPETES) Act.” 110th Congress. August 9, 2007. United States Government Printing Office Website:

[5] Wadman, Meredith. “Workforce Out of Balance.” Nature. June 19, 2012. Website:

[6] id

[7] id

[8] id

[9] Ebola Virus Particles – “Colorized scanning electron micrograph of filamentous Ebola virus particles (red) attached and budding from a chronically infected VERO E6 cell (blue) (25,000x magnification).” NIH Image Gallery. Credit: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health.



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