The White House Wants to Hear from You

As a part of its efforts to introduce fully open government, the White House is reaching out to the at-large scientific community to discuss America's national scientific and technological priorities.

Through AAAS, and our new Expert Labs program, the Obama administration wants to draw on the collective wisdom of scientists everywhere in deciding which scientific and technological challenges should be the focus of policy initiatives in the coming years.

In 2009 President Obama provided some examples of what these challenges might be:

  • Complete DNA sequencing of every type of cancer; smart anti-cancer therapeutics that kill cancer cells and leave their normal neighbors untouched; early detection of dozens of diseases from a saliva sample; nanotechnology that delivers drugs precisely to the desired tissue; personalized medicine that enables the prescription of the right dose of the right drug for the right person; a universal vaccine for influenza that will protect against all future strains; and regenerative medicine that can end the agonizing wait for an organ transplant.
  • Solar cells as cheap as paint, and green buildings that produce all of the energy they consume.
  • A light-weight vest for soldiers and police officers that can stop an armor-piercing bullet.
  • Educational software that is as compelling as the best video game and as effective as a personal tutor; online courses that improve when more students use them; and a rich, interactive digital library at the fingertips of every child.
  • Intelligent prosthetics that will allow a veteran who has lost both of his arms to play the piano again.
  • Biological systems that can turn sunlight into carbon-neutral fuel, reduce the costs of producing antimalarial drugs by a factor of 10, and quickly and inexpensively dispose of radioactive wastes and toxic chemicals.
  • An “exascale” supercomputer capable of a million trillion calculations per second – dramatically increasing our ability to understand the world around us through simulation and slashing the time needed to design complex products such as therapeutics, advanced materials, and highly efficient autos and aircraft.
  • Automatic, highly accurate and real-time translation between the major languages of the world – greatly lowering the barriers to international commerce and collaboration.

To Participate

You can help the White House determine which scientific and technological challenges to prioritize as well as advocate for your own areas of research if you feel that significant breakthroughs are possible.

  • First, create a succinct description of a grand challenge, and optionally include metrics of progress, suggested ideas of who could lead the project, or techniques that could be used to accomplish the goal.
  • Then, share that idea with the
    White House via e-mail to, or by replying to the White House's call to action on Twitter or Facebook with a link to your Grand Challenges submission.
  • Finally, encourage your peers, friends, and family to participate in the dialogue as well, either by amplifying your submission or contributing ideas of their own.

Now, the White House wants your help in shaping the federal government’s current and future scientific priorities. As scientists and concerned citizens, we have a great responsibility and a unique opportunity to be the voices that are helping to define the White House's scientific agenda. Make your voice heard. Submit your ideas today.

Click here for further details on the
Grand Challenges, and on submitting
your responses.