20th-century Biologist Quotes
As biomedical research continues to provide us with greater understanding and with powerful new tools, the scientific community has, I think, a dual responsibility. One is to push forward the frontiers to make medical advances possible, to understand what cancer is, to develop new ways of treating cancer, to prevent heart disease, and to develop ways of preventing, ultimately, disorders such as Alzheimer's disease and depression. But science also has a second responsibility to society, which is to point out what we need to be concerned about as a society and to bring to bear humane, balanced, and thoughtful ways of dealing with the advances that come from biomedical research. Scientists need to speak to these issues.
Human power, which mounted slowly indeed through the eons of prehistory and somewhat more rapidly after the advent of the sword and pen, has gathered momentum with logarithmic sweep since the dawn of modern science. Today it seems to be rocketing into outer space with the incredible energy of atomic fission.
Science is imagination in the service of the verifiable truth and that service is indeed communal. It cannot be rigidly planned. Rather, it requires freedom and courage and the plural contributions of many different kinds of people who must maintain their individuality while giving to the group.
With its hundred billion nerve cells, with their hundred trillion interconnections, the human brain is the most complex phenomenon in the known universe - always, of course, excepting the interaction of some six billion such brains and their owners within the socio-technological culture of our planetary ecosystem!
The theory of evolution by natural selection is an ecological theory—founded on ecological observation by perhaps the greatest of all ecologists. It has been adopted by and brought up by the science of genetics, and ecologists, being modest people, are apt to forget their distinguished parenthood.
The study of how substances alter gene expression is part of the field of epigenetics. Some chemical exposures appear to turn on and turn off genes in ways that disregulate cell growth and predispose for cancer. From this perspective, our genes are less the command-and-control masters of our cells and more like the keys of piano, with the environment as the hands of the pianist.