Needed: a quantum leap
It’s the shift from gene to cell.
“I think what we’re seeing in this century now is a renewed appreciation for not DNA… but cells as being the secret to life,” says Harvard stem cell researcher Douglas Melton, Ph.D. “We’ll see what I might call a more synthetic biology, using information obtained from DNA to think about how cells work, about physiology and how our bodies work.”
Richard Caprioli, Ph.D., who directs Vanderbilt’s Mass Spectrometry Research Center, thinks a lot about the cell, too. But for him, it’s metaphorical.
“I don’t think we as scientists are really going to make huge innovations in understanding until we integrate just like the cell does,” Caprioli says.
This transformation must include the entire scientific enterprise, Caprioli asserts, from the university research lab to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and even to industry.
Lens magazine asked Caprioli and other scientists at Vanderbilt and throughout the country to brainstorm ideas for revitalizing the nation’s biomedical research enterprise.
Their suggestions may surprise you.
Stop yo-yo funding
Continued support of the NIH is essential, but simply increasing its budget will not solve the problems facing U.S. science. What’s needed instead is stable funding, a budget that does not wobble up and down in response to the vagaries of the political system.