Author + information
- Douglas L. Mann, MD, FACC∗ ()
- Center for Cardiovascular Research, Department of Medicine, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri
- ↵∗Address for correspondence:
Dr. Douglas L. Mann, Editor-in-Chief JACC: Basic to Translational Science, American College of Cardiology, Heart House, 2400 North Street NW, Washington, DC 20037.
While attending a scientific meeting in Chicago, I had the opportunity to join 40,000 other people who rallied on Saturday morning, April 22, 2017, to participate in the 2017 March for Science. The march coincided with Earth Day, and was 1 of about 600 events taking place worldwide, which were intended to celebrate science, as well as draw attention to the skepticism that has grown around scientific facts over the past several years. The day began with a rally in Grant Park that included speeches by several prominent scientists who lived in Chicago. Shortly after the speeches, participants marched down Columbus Drive to the Field Museum, where >50 science-related research groups and nonprofit organizations were stationed for a 3-h science exposition. I was fortunate enough to strike up a conversation with several scientists who were attending the annual American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) meeting. They invited me to walk with them under their ASBMB banner, which I proudly did. Although the organizers of the march stated that it was not intended to be partisan, they did indicate that the march was political in nature and was intended to defend scientific research from attack, including proposed U.S. government budget cuts under President Trump, especially the proposed 20% cut to the National Institutes of Health. Aside from the sense of comradery that everyone felt that day, the other highlight was reading the clever signs that people were carrying. There were the inevitable partisan signs (“Get your tiny hands off my science”), the ubiquitous Earth Day signs (“There is no Planet B!”), and then there was my favorite sign that was carried by an 8-year-old boy who had a streak of his blond hair dyed blue, which read: “Be like a positron, be positive!” I thought he totally killed it.
Whether you are a Republican, a Democrat, or an Independent, or even don’t care about politics, it is very likely that your life has benefitted in some way from the translation of science into our everyday lives. Unfortunately, there has been a slow burning distrust of science and the scientific community in both the government, as well as in society. Part of the blame may be our inability as scientists to communicate effectively, part of this may relate to the tendency of scientists to overhype their work, and part of this may relate to the long-lasting damaging effects of fraudulent research. Dr. David Skorton, who is the current Secretary of the Smithsonian Institute, believes that “…scientific, medical, and public health developments sometimes fail to gain public acceptance for reasons that lie far outside the realm of science. And that is not the fault of the public—that is our fault as scientists” (1). He also remarked that “Scientists need not only to explain much more clearly and compellingly what we are doing, but also to establish on social, cultural, and emotional levels why our work is important. We need to respect cultural differences that lead to misunderstanding and even fear of science.” In an article in The Atlantic magazine entitled “What Exactly Are People Marching for When They March for Science?,” activist Beka Economopoulos stated that “Science is not an inherently noble pursuit: the same process that leads to medical treatments also gave us nuclear weapons and eugenics. Science is a tool…. The relevant question is: whose interests does science serve?” (2). Economopoulos stated that she marched for science on April 22nd to ensure that science was pointed in the right direction.
As editor-in-chief of a new journal that is devoted entirely to publishing scientific discoveries that are intended to improve the outcomes of patients afflicted with cardiovascular disease, my goal is to ensure that that JACC: Basic to Translational Science is always pointed in the right direction and that we communicate that direction effectively. Whenever the editorial board discusses papers that have been submitted to us, we first begin by discussing the quality of the science, and then end by discussing whether the paper has a “translational vector”∗; that is, is the research pointed towards a new therapy. As stated in our inaugural issue, JACC: Basic to Translational Science seeks to serve patients and families impacted by cardiovascular disease, investigators in academia and industry, the National Heart, Blood, and Lung Institute and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in an effort to advance translational cardiovascular medicine (3). Like Beka Economopoulos, I marched on April 22nd to ensure that science is pointed in the right direction. What I took away from the 2017 Chicago March for Science was the certainty that, now, more than ever before, we need to remain positive—like a positron—about effectively communicating the immense contributions that science has made to all of our lives, and that we need to continue to support the ongoing efforts that are being made to fund basic, translational, and clinical science. As always, we welcome your thoughts and would like to hear whether you think that we are pointed in the right direction, either through social media (#JACCBTS) or by email ( ).
↵∗ The expression “translation vector” is attributed to Gordon Tomaselli, MD.
- 2017 The Author
- ↵Skorton DJ. Why Scientists Should Embrace the Liberal Arts: Science Alone Isn’t Enough to Solve the World’s Problems. January 16, 2014. Scientific American. Available at: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/why-scientists-should-embrace-liberal-arts/. Accessed May 2017.
- ↵Yong E. What Exactly Are People Marching for When They March for Science?: The Event Has Around 21 Stated Goals. The Atlantic. May 7, 2017. Available at: https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2017/03/what-exactly-are-people-marching-for-when-they-march-for-science/518763/. Accessed May 2017.
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