THE WHITE HOUSE
November 17, 1944
Dear Dr. Bush:
The Office of Scientific Research and Development, of which you are the Director,
represents a unique experiment of team-work and cooperation in coordinating scientific
research and in applying existing scientific knowledge to the solution of the technical
problems paramount in war. Its work has been conducted in the utmost secrecy and carried
on without public recognition of any kind; but its tangible results can be found in
the communiques coming in from the battlefronts all over the world. Some day the full
story of its achievements can be told.
There is, however, no reason why the lessons to be found in this experiment cannot
be profitably employed in times of peace. The information, the techniques, and the
research experience developed by the Office of Scientific Research and Development
and by the thousands of scientists in the universities and in private industry, should
be used in the days of peace ahead for the improvement of the national health, the
creation of new enterprises bringing new jobs, and the betterment of the national
standard of living.
It is with that objective in mind that I would like to have your recommendations
on the following four major points:
First: What can be done, consistent with military security, and with the prior approval
of the military authorities, to make known to the world as soon as possible the contributions
which have been made during our war effort to scientific knowledge?
The diffusion of such knowledge should help us stimulate new enterprises, provide
jobs for our returning servicemen and other workers, and make possible great strides
for the improvement of the national well-being.
Second: With particular reference to the war of science against disease, what can be
done now to organize a program for continuing in the future the work which has been
done in medicine and related sciences?
The fact that the annual deaths in this country from one or two diseases alone
are far in excess of the total number of lives lost by us in battle during this war
should make us conscious of the duty we owe future generations.
Third: What can the Government do now and in the future to aid research activities
by public and private organizations? The proper roles of public and of private research,
and their interrelation, should be carefully considered.
Fourth: Can an effective program be proposed for discovering and developing scientific
talent in American youth so that the continuing future of scientific research in this
country may be assured on a level comparable to what has been done during the war?
New frontiers of the mind are before us, and if they are pioneered with the same
vision, boldness, and drive with which we have waged this war we can create a fuller
and more fruitful employment and a fuller and more fruitful life. I hope that, after
such consultation as you may deem advisable with your associates and others, you can
let me have your considered judgement on these matters as soon as convenient - reporting
on each when you are ready, rather than waiting for completion of your studies in
Very sincerely yours,
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Dr. Vannevar Bush,
Office of Scientific Research and Development