Guest editorial by Lee Limbird

Lee Limbird, Ph.D.
Published: February, 2003

Lee Limbird, Ph.D., is former chair of the Department of Pharmacology and former associate vice chancellor for Research at Vanderbilt, and a guiding force behind Lens.
Photo by Anne Rayner
Capturing light. Providing focus. Altering perspective. That is the intent of our new publication, Lens. We are trying to give our readers – scientists and those who watch science alike – an appreciation of the revolution that is occurring in our understanding of health and disease.

Much like the maturation of our children, scientific discovery occurs in two interrelated ways – incremental, step-by-step grasp of new insights intertwined with fundamental changes and paradigm shifts in our appreciation of life and its underlying processes.

We hope you will come to appreciate through our Lens that discoveries that could improve our health are not just about biology and medicine. They are both accelerated and detoured by the motivation and peculiar perspective of investigators. They are catapulted by technological advances. For example, if the promissory notes of genome-wide science are fulfilled, a therapeutic resolution will result, and we will begin to treat underlying diseases rather than simply the symptoms of diseases. Society’s definition of health and disease will, of course, influence the direction that this discovery process takes.

One goal of Lens is to whet the appetite for a greater understanding of biomedical research for those who have not had the opportunity for formal scientific training. Yet another is to provide a synthesis of the different perspectives on the same topic for experts and the lay public. Hopefully, you will come to appreciate through our Lens that discoveries that affect the quality of human life are part of the fabric of our society. They are about public policy, economics, and the balance of these issues in a world that is threatened by more than disease.

It is our hope that Lens will provide enjoyable yet thought-provoking reading for a broad audience – from participants in the discovery enterprise to its benefactors, the public at large.