Itís not all about science  pg. 2

Through an ambitious exercise called “Vision 2020,” Vanderbilt hopes to develop such a model – one that transforms clinical practice and professional education through the rapid and efficient application of fundamental discoveries.

“We’ve now got 40 years of people trying to fix this (health care) system from the outside,” Stead says. “I think we’ve actually got to fix this system from the inside.”

There is concern that such targeted, “translational” research diverts funds from basic research that can lead to paradigm-shifting discoveries.

Stead believes they are not mutually exclusive. In fact, he says, “we’ve got to come up with new approaches for supporting fundamental research.”

“What would have happened if we’d had the emergence of HIV in the ‘80s, and we hadn’t had the previous 20 years of basic virology research? Look at how fast we grabbed that.”

In today’s world, the Internet has become as important a driver of communication and collaboration as was the printing press nearly six centuries ago. Yet Stead worries that many Americans are “coming out of school with extraordinarily limited skills.”

And while it is true that the United States can benefit from lessons learned elsewhere, “I don’t think we can depend on other countries to give our people the skills to solve problems,” he says.

“We need to be working on the ideas we think are most important for the problems we have,” Stead says. “We need to be doing things to get other people to work on those problems … (to) create the connections between the problems and the ideas … in a way that make light bulbs go off.”

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