� March 14, 2000
� The President. Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you and
welcome to the White House. Thank you, Secretary Daley, and thank
you, Dr. Lane, for your leadership. Secretary Shalala, Dr. Colwell,
Representative Nick Smith, Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson,
States Congress, across party lines. We welcome Sir Christopher
Meyer, the British Ambassador to the United States, here to be with
� Every year I look forward to this day. I always learn something
from the work of the honorees. Some of you I know personally;
others, I've read your books. Some of you, I'm still trying to grasp
the implications of what it is I'm supposed to understand and don't
quite yet. [Laughter) But this has been-I must say, one of the great
personal joys of being President for me has been the opportunity
that I've had to be involved with people who are pushing the
frontiers of science and technology and to study subjects that I
haven't really thought seriously about since I was in my late teens.
And I thank you for that.
� When Congress minted America's first coin in 1792, one of the
mottos was "Liberty, Parent of Science and Industry." Very few of
those coins survived, but the Smithsonian has lent us one today. I
actually have one. It's worth $300,000. [Laughter] Not enough to
turn the head of a 25-year-old ,com executive-[laughter]-but to a
to see it because it embodies a commitment that was deep in the
consciousness of Thomas Jefferson and many of our other Founders.
And we could put the same inscription on your medals today.
� You have used your freedom to ask and answer some of the greatest
questions of our time. Each of you has been a brilliant innovator,
and more, breaking down barriers between disciplines, broadening the
frontiers of knowledge, bringing the products of pure research into
everyday lives of millions of people, helping to educate the next
generation of inventors and innovators.
� For this, America and, indeed, the entire world is in your debt. It
is terribly important that we continue to open the world of science
to every American. The entire store of human knowledge is now
doubling every 5 years. In just the 8 years since I first presented
these medals, think about what has occurred. In 1993 no one's
computer had a zip drive or a Pentium chip; there were only 50 sites
on the World Wide Web, amazing, January of 1993. Today, there are
about 50 million. In 1993 cloning animals was still science fiction.
But Dolly the sheep would be born just 4 years later. Since 1993,
70 to 80 miles a gallon, invented Palm Pilots that put the Internet
on our belts and lead to the increasing nightmares of a busy life.
� The work that you and your colleagues have done has changed
everything about our lives. It has brought us to the threshold of a
new scientific voyage that promises to change everything all over
� Perhaps no science today is more compelling than the effort to
decipher the human genome, the string of 3 billion letters that make
up our genes. In my lifetime, we'll go from knowing almost nothing
about how our genes work to enlisting genes in the struggle to
prevent and cure illness. This will be the scientific breakthrough
of the century, perhaps of all time. We have a profound
responsibility to ensure that the life-saving benefits of any
cutting-edge research are available to all human beings.
� Today, we take a major step in that direction by pledging to lead a
global effort to make the raw data from DNA sequencing available to
am pleased to announce a groundbreaking agreement between the United
States and the United Kingdom, one which I reconfirmed just a few
hours ago in a conversation with Prime Minister Blair and one which
brings the distinguished British Ambassador here today.
� This agreement says in the strongest possible terms our genome, the
book in which all human life is written, belongs to every member of
the human race. Already the Human Genome Project, funded by the
United States and the United Kingdom, requires its grant recipients
to make the sequences they discover publicly available within 24
hours. I urge all other nations, scientists, and corporations to
adopt this policy and honor its spirit. We must ensure that the
profits of human genome research are measured not in dollars but in
the betterment of human life. [Applause] Thank you.
� Already, we can isolate genes that cause Parkinson's disease and
some forms of cancer, as well as a genetic variation that seems to
protect its carriers from AIDS. Next month the Department of
Energy's Joint Genome Project will complete DNA sequences for three
more chromosomes whose genes play roles in more than 150 diseases,
the ones we know about.
� What we don't know is how these genes affect the process of disease
and how they might be used to prevent or to cure it. Right now, we
are Benjamin Franklin with electricity and a kite, not Thomas Edison
with a usable light bulb.
� As we take the next step and use this information to develop
therapies and medicines, private companies have a major role. By
making the raw data publicly available, companies can promote
competition and innovation and spur the pace of scientific advance.
They need incentives to throw their top minds into expensive
research ahead. They need patent protection for their discoveries
and the prospect of marketing them successfully, and it is in the
Government's interest to see that they get it.
� But as scientists race to decipher our genetic alphabet, we need to
think now about the future and see clearly that, in science and
technology, the future lies in openness. We should recognize that
access to the raw data and responsible use of patents and licensing
medicine. Above all, we should recognize that this is a fundamental
challenge to our common humanity and that keeping our genetic code
accessible is the right thing to do.
� We should also remember that, like the Internet, supercomputers,
and so many other scientific advances, our ability to read our
genetic alphabet grew from decades of research that began with
Government funding. Every American has an investment in unlocking
the human genome, and all Americans should be proud of their
investment in this and other frontiers of science.
� I thank all of you for all you have done to build international and
national support for American investment in science and technology.
I am grateful that this administration has had the opportunity to
increase our funding for civilian research every year and that we
have requested an unprecedented increase this year, in areas from
nanotechnology to clean energy to space exploration.
� As the new century opens, we are setting out on a new voyage of
discovery, not just into human cells but into the human heart. We
new questions. What is the purpose of the 97 percent of our genetic
makeup whose function we don't know? What will we find in the genes
left to identify? How will we make sure the benefits of genetic
research are widely and fairly shared? How will we make sure that
millions of Americans living longer lives also live better and more
� Almost 200 years ago, Lewis and Clark set out on a voyage of
discovery that was planned in this room, where Thomas Jefferson and
Meriwether Lewis laid out maps on tables, right where you're sitting
and, though it would be politically incorrect today, tromped around
on animal skins on the floor. [Laughter] That discovery would not
only map the contours of our continent, but expand forever the
frontier of our national imagination.
� Before setting out, when Meriwether Lewis was here in the East Room
with Thomas Jefferson, poring over maps and sharing the lessons in
natural science, he actually lived on the south side of this room,
in two small rooms that Thomas Jefferson had constructed in this big
room for him. I must say today, I wish I could ask all of you to do
person is talking. I wish we could hear from all of you today.
� One of the things that I wish I could do a better job of as
President is sparking the interest and understanding of every single
citizen in the work you do-of everyone's ability to see how
profoundly significant what goes on in your labs and in your minds
is to their future. I do think the American people are coming a long
way on that, and I tried to talk in the State of the Union in ways
that would help. I also try to think of little ways to illustrate
how you are changing our conception of the most basic things: what
is big and what is small; what is long and what is short. Dr. Lane
has actually given me a primer of what nanotechnology is, and I can
carry on a fairly meaningful subject about something that is totally
unfathomable to me. [Laughter]
� And last year, Neil Armstrong and his colleagues came back to the
White House to celebrate the 30th anniversary of his walk on the
Moon. And while he did it, as a part of the ceremony, he gave me
just on loana vacuum-packed Moon rock which, if you see the
photographs now of the Oval Office with the two chairs and the
the world that sees it.
� And when Members of Congress and others come in and get all heated
up and angry over some issue, I often call a time out, and I say,
"Wait a minute. See that rock? It came off the Moon. It's 3.6
billion years old. We're all just passing through. Chill out."
[Laughter It works every time. [Laughter] So there's a practical
gain I got from scientific advance. [Laughter]
� There are many other things that have happened that have enriched
our lives. I have to acknowledge the presence here of my good friend
Stevie Wonder, who has had a lot to do with improving musical
technology, and is obviously interested in some of the scientific
developments now going on, which might restore sight to people and
other movements to people who have suffered debilitating paralysis
and other things. And we thank you, Stevie, for being here today.
� As our honorees receive their medals,we thank them; all of us
thank them for the way they have changed the way we view our planet
are part of an unbroken chain from Lewis and Jefferson to Edison and
Einstein, from the cotton gin to the space shuttle, from a vaccine
for polio to the mysteries of DNA. I thank each of you for what you
have done to change our world and to enrich our minds, our
imaginations, and our hearts.
� And I think-I learned right before I came in here that it is
infinitely appropriate that you are receiving these awards on Albert
Einstein's birthday. So thank you very much. Congratulations.
� Commander, please read the citations.
� [At this point, Comdr. Michael M. Gilday, USN, Navy Aide to the
President, read the citations, and the President presented the
� The President. Now, ladies and gentlemen, I want to just say two
things in closing. First of all, we saw again today another triumph
of the scientific method. After two failures, all the other honorees
took off their glasses on their own. [Laughter] It was truly
� This has been a wonderful day. I'd like to invite alI of you to
join us in the State Dining Room for a reception in honor of the
� Thank you very much.
� NOTE: The President spoke at 3:23 p.m. in the East Room at the
White House. In his remarks, he referred to Prime Minister Tony
Blair of the United Kingdom; Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong,
Edwin (Buzz) Aldrin, and Michael Collins; and musician Stevie