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U.S. Nobel laureate concerned politics could undermine science

Dec. 10, 2017 at 11:59 p.m.

Michael Rosbash, laureate in Medicine 2017 delivers a speech, during the Nobel banquet in the City Hall, in Stockholm, Sunday, Dec. 10, 2017. (Fredrik Sandberg/TT News Agency via AP)

STOCKHOLM (AP) — An American researcher who shared this year's Nobel Prize for medicine bluntly criticized political developments at home in his address at the awards' gala banquet Sunday night.

Michael Rosbash, who was honored for his work on circadian rhythms — commonly called the body clock — expressed concern that U.S. government support such as that received by him and colleagues Jeffrey Hall and Michael Young is endangered.

"We benefited from an enlightened period in the postwar United States. Our National Institutes of Health have enthusiastically and generously supported basic research ... (but) the current climate in the U.S. is a warning that continued support cannot be taken for granted," he said.

The 2018 federal budget proposed by President Donald Trump calls for cutting science funding by billions of dollars

Literature laureate Kazuo Ishiguro of Britain expressed concern about increasing tensions between social factions.

"We live today in a time of growing tribal enmities of communities fracturing into bitterly opposed groups," said Ishiguro, who was born in Japan.

He said Nobel prizes can counterbalance such animosity.

In the Norwegian capital of Oslo, a survivor of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima compared her struggle to survive in 1945 to the objectives of the group awarded this year's Nobel's Peace Prize.

Setsuko Thurlow, who was 13 when the U.S. bomb devastated her city during the final weeks of World War II, spoke as a leading activist with the Nobel-winning International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons.

Thurlow said the Hiroshima blast left her buried under the rubble, but she was able to see light and crawl to safety. In the same way, the campaign to which she belongs is a driving force behind an international treaty to ban nuclear weapons, she said after ICAN received the Nobel prize it won in October.

The other laureates were American Richard Thaler for his work in behavioral economics; American physicists Kip Thorne, Rainer Weiss and Barry Barish for confirming the existence of gravity waves; and Jacques Dubochet of Switzerland, American Joachim Frank and Richard Henderson of the United Kingdom for advances in electron microscopy.

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