Billed as “three days to change the world,” the September 7-9 Celebration of Science event in Washington, DC brought together more than 1,000 of the world’s most brilliant and influential individuals. In panels and talks, they gathered to share ideas and deliver the message that America should recommit itself to bioscience.
“We’ve entered the era of precision medicine, where therapies are customized to treat the complex genetic makeup of the patient instead of attacking disease with blunt force. Surgeons are swapping scalpels for noninvasive technologies that use light, sound and magnetism. Emerging treatments render many forms of cancer impotent, and the dream of an AIDS-free generation is within reach.”
– Michael Milken, Chairman, FasterCures
Attendees included members of Congress, current and past cabinet secretaries and presidential advisors, directors of US science agencies, Nobel laureates, university presidents, philanthropists, senior management of many of the nation’s largest employers including pharmaceutical and biotech companies, patient advocates, prominent health economists and 600 leading scientists, medical researchers and clinicians.
Inspiration for the event came from philanthropist and FasterCures Chairman Michael Milken. ““As much as half of all economic growth over the past century is attributable to advances in the biosciences,” he wrote. “By assembling such a diverse range of leaders, we hope to forge a uniquely bipartisan consensus about the importance of bioscience.”
Milken also stated, “Today’s bioscience revolution can bring more benefit to the world than all the scientific progress of modern history. It has the potential to address several pressing global challenges – energy, the environment, defense and the supply of food and water. Most important, bioscience is our key to unlocking the causes and potential cures of disease.”
The Focused Ultrasound Foundation had several representatives at the meeting, including Chairman Neal Kassell, MD who participated in a special retreat, “Accelerating Innovation in the Bioscience Revolution,” on September 7. He spoke about focused ultrasound during a panel discussion on September 9, entitled, “Biological Effects of Physical Energy.”
After the event, Milken summarized the event’s impact. “We made progress on several fronts:
- Demonstrating that America, having benefitted greatly in terms of health and wealth from past investments in bioscience, has reached a turning point – the potential for future returns is even higher if we recommit the nation now;
- Bringing together a bipartisan group of government leaders from the House, Senate and Administration who showed their support;
- Validating the career choices of students who chose to pursue a life in science;
- Highlighting the crucial role of patients and patient-focused organizations;
- Increasing awareness and understanding of the missions of American health and science agencies – including the NIH, FDA and NSF;
- Encouraging a more productive dialogue among groups in government, private industry and academic science centers;
- Providing a 360-degree view of basic, translational and clinical science; and
- Showing the importance of bioscience to America’s relationships with the rest of the world.”
More information is available at www.celebrationofscience.org.
Written by Ellen C., McKenna