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- J. Michael Bishop, awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1989, attends the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting being held this week in Germany.
- The American scientist known closely situation of R + D in Spain, having recently assessed the activity of the National Cancer Research Center.
Considered as one of the leading scientists in the study of cancer, J. Michael Bishop Share your thoughts and experiences with young researchers gathered in the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting . The event, first held in 1951, served to promote the reconciliation of Europe, devastated by World War II.
J. Michael Bishop was born in 1936 in York (Pennsylvania) within a rural family. The young man studied at the Harvard Medical School , which would specialize in the field of molecular biology and virology . After finishing the race in 1962, Bishop spent two years in the Massachusetts General Hospital , until he decided to devote himself to research. It was then that he began a successful career in the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda (Maryland). After enjoying a sabbatical year in Germany, the scientist moved to the University of California (San Francisco).
“Research is one of the most important investments a government can make”
On the west coast of the USA, J. Michael Bishop began working with Harold Varmus in Rous sarcoma virus. Both researchers received the Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology in 1989 for his work on the origin of the oncogenes. Thanks to these studies, today we know a few more steps in the development of a tumor and the systems that regulate the normal growth of our cells. Taking advantage of his stay in Lindau, J. Michael Bishop talk with Hypertext on the state of research.
only days ago he was in Spain to help in the evaluation of National Cancer Research Centre, one of the flagships of Spanish science. How does the CNIO?
It’s great! It is considered one of the best research institutes in Europe, but are suffering enough cuts in R & D. Investment in the CNIO has decreased a lot, but it’s a stunning center. Your situation shows how delicate is research, if you cut, talent goes and the system collapses completely.
How can we convince politicians to invest more in science?
There are very persuasive arguments. Scientific advances guiding economic development, as seen in the United States and much of Europe. Research also contributes to the welfare of society. Undoubtedly, it is one of the most important investments a government can make
Can you run a country without investing in R & D?
Science it is absolutely essential. Essential to the economy, society, and personally also think it’s fundamental to the dignity of a country. The search for knowledge is one of the intrinsic characteristics of human beings is one of the most wonderful aspects of our nature. Should be supported.
Is it true what they say that “without science there is no future”?
Yes, there are more pragmatic arguments. There have been experiments and investigations which show that the countries most committed to science are best presented in the present situation.
“Basic research is not performed if the government stop finance “
What do you think scientists should make results-oriented research? In our country it has lately opted for applied R & D, do you think that is a good strategy?
I think it’s a terrible idea. If the public sector does not invest in basic science that will have long-term applications, say in twenty years or more, this research will never be realized. I repeat: the basic research not be held if the government fails to finance
In Spain, however, there are politicians who think the private sector should invest more in R & D, but. at the same time cut in public funding for science, what would you advise us?
The private sector has its own problems, they are pragmatic problems. In the United States, for example, private research is solid, but is a type of very specific R & D aimed at specific purposes.
In fact Big Pharma are decreasing funding in basic science, and increasingly they rely on the work done at universities. In our case, the private sector invests heavily in R & D, but always to meet the objectives of the business plan. In contrast, public research benefits everyone, and that is from the academic world.
In the case of the United States, much of the investment comes from philanthropy Do you think that can be a good source of funding?
Well, I think that funding through philanthropists in the United States is far from the investment made by the government in R & D . Without public funding, we would not have the research system we have.
In relation to aspects of scientific culture, do you think that ignorance of society on the investigation is due to a educational problem?
There is a large educational problem. I do not know what happens in Spain, but US science education society receives is horrible. We are trying to work on it and solve it, but what students learn at an early age about science is not necessary, either prepares them for the real world and as a result, society is not well informed. For example, in the United States young children (say 1 to 5 years) are educated by teachers who in many cases have not received scientific training. It is absurd, but it is a fact.
Do not you think that scientists are partly to blame by not disseminating their work?
I think the main problem It is educational. But we must bear in mind that researchers generally do not disclose what we do well. There are many exceptions, of course, but scientists generally know not explain with a plain and accessible language the work we do and the results we get.
June 30, 2015