Golden Goose Award

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The Golden Goose Award is a United States award established in 2012 that officially recognizes scientists whose federally funded basic research has led to innovations or inventions which have a significant impact on humanity or society. The results have been significant health and economic benefits. The award has bi-partisan support in Congress and is sponsored by a number of notable organizations and legislators.

The burgeoning research has often had odd-sounding names. Since the 1970s such titles were the subject of ridicule by the late Senator William Proxmire and his monthly Golden Fleece Awards. For example, with his first Golden Fleece Award in March 1975, Senator Proxmire directly ridiculed a National Science Foundation study on why people fall in love.[1]

Another study entitled "Acoustic Trauma in the Guinea Pig Cochlea" has resulted in a treatment for hearing loss in infants. Other research funded by U.S. federal agencies have led to widely used technologies such as laser technology, the internet, fiber optics, the Global Positioning System, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computer touch screens and lithium-ion batteries.[2][3][4][5] Recipients receive the award in a ceremony during the fall each year on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C.


In the face of pressure to cut wasteful spending in the U.S. federal budget, along with the need to underscore the significance of basic research, and as a counter to Proxmire's awards, this award was created. Awardees include Nobel Prize winners. The purpose of the awards is to "demonstrate the human and economic benefits of federally funded research by highlighting examples of seemingly obscure or unusual studies that have led to major breakthroughs and have had a significant impact on society".[6] The purpose of the award has also been described as follows:

"Such innovation has been critically important to economic growth in the United States, and will be even more so as global scientific research becomes increasingly competitive".[4]

"Ever since the days of the Golden Fleece Awards, spearheaded by the late Senator William Proxmire, some policymakers have delighted in turning quirky or unusual research titles into a punch line".[2][5]

"The United States may now risk falling behind in scientific discoveries as other countries increase their science funding. We need to get serious about science".[5]


Historical examples[edit]

The bi-partisan group of legislators that back the Golden Goose award and the founding organizations cite odd-titled research of the past which led to widely used scientific advances. The first cited example is when Alexander Fleming published Anti-Bacterial Substance in Filtrates of Broth in 1926 which has become known as penicillin. Second, X-rays probably sounded odd in 1895 after Wilhelm Röntgen named such phenomena that caused a glow in a nearby chemically coated screen. Third, studies on the excretion of urine in dogs and the excretion of insulin by dog fish ultimately led to advancements in understanding diabetes which earned the National Medal of Science.

Founding Organizations[edit]

Some of the founding organizations for this award are the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the Association of American Universities (AAU), the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (A۰P۰L۰U), the Breakthrough Institute, the Progressive Policy Institute (PPI), and The Science Coalition (TSC) [6]


  1. ^ Yager, M.; Emmett, M. (2012). "How worms' sex behavior can have a major impact on understanding human disease". Proceedings (Baylor University. Medical Center) 25 (4): 395–396. PMC 3448588. PMID 23077397. 
  2. ^ a b Ginger Pinholster (April 30, 2012). "Bipartisan Launch of Golden Goose Award Celebrates the Contributions of Basic Science". American Association for the Advancement of Science. Retrieved 2012-09-07. 
  3. ^ Davis, Hallowell (1953). "Acoustic Trauma in the Guinea Pig". The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 25 (6): 1180. Bibcode:1953ASAJ...25.1180D. doi:10.1121/1.1907260. Retrieved 2012-09-07. 
  4. ^ a b E. W. Lempinen (September 13, 2012). "U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, AAAS CEO Alan I. Leshner: "It’s Time to Get Serious about Science"". American Association for the Advancement of Science. Retrieved 2012-09-07. 
  5. ^ a b c Jim Cooper; Alan I. Leshner (September 9, 2012). "It’s time to get serious about science". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2012-09-07. 
  6. ^ a b "First Golden Goose Awards Given for Seemingly Odd—but High-Impact—Research". American Association for the Advancement of Science. September 14, 2012. Retrieved 2012-09-07. 

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