Theodore Roosevelt, in his famous speech “Citizenship In A Republic” starts by saying “it is not the critic who counts;” What makes the speech poignant is that all too often it is the critic who counts because we see time and time again the media pointing out “how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.”
Too often we only hear about failures and waste
in government, yet the contributions and success of government-funded science
and technology are ubiquitous and often under-reported.
The Randolph-Sheppard Act was signed into law by President Roosevelt in 1936. The act established a priority for blind vendors on Federal property. Nearly 77 years later, walking toward the snack stand operated by a blind vendor, the irony always occurs to me as I read an unusual brass plaque on the hallway that commemorates the origin of the Human Genome Project and its champion, Dr. Charles DeLisi. The irony is that Rick, the blind vendor who could one day benefit from that project, cannot see the plaque.
It takes individuals with an almost futuristic vision, able to counter criticism by those with less foresight, to take leaps of faith to establish such a far-reaching effort such as the Human Genome Project. Dr. DeLisi was apparently such a person.
Dr. DeLisi, then Director of the Office of Health and Environmental Research at the Department of Energy, recognized the available technology and came up with the idea to sequence the human genome in 1985.