The Endless Frontier
As Harvard professor emeritus of zoology and biology Richard Lewontin wrote in the preface to his book “Biology as Ideology: The Doctrine of DNA”, “a simple and dramatic theory that explains everything makes good press, good radio, good TV, and best-selling books.” Meanwhile, he noted, “if one's message is that things are complicated, uncertain, and messy, that no simple rule or force will explain the past and predict the future of human existence, there are rather fewer ways to get that message across.”
On the flip side, science and society are more linked than ever. We don’t have to look further than the day’s top headlines to see how immunology and engineering permeate our lives.
In 2012, the biotechnology firm Amgen attempted to replicate “landmark” research on blood disorders and cancer. They chose 53 studies that had been cited and circulated widely, all of which described novel findings or approaches for cancer treatment.
Kariko’s own career, however, nearly ended in 1995, and her story shows how science funding mechanisms in the U.S. have failed us.
This letter arrives as we are at a juncture in scientific history. Especially visibly during this pandemic, science and technology are far more intimately connected to our national security, information dissemination, and economy than ever before. In his letter, Biden poses several critical questions: How will our public health system learn from the pandemic? How will America ensure our global leadership in technology, address climate change, and guarantee that the rewards of science and tech are shared across the country?