Celebration of (Biomedical) Science

The first I heard of this was from this Tweet:

All weekend in the Washington area, there is a Celebration of Science.  You only need to scratch the surface to notice that the emphasis is on biomedical research.  The sponsors are focused in the biomedical sciences, the notable scientists are from biomedical fields, the biggest science policy official is not the President’s Science Adviser, but the Director of the National Institutes of Health.  (Perhaps if John Holdren could play an instrument and/or sing…)

The program reflects the emphasis on biomedical research, specifically on genetics and cancer.  Many of the named entertainers have battled the disease or are doing work in the field.  At least two of those associated with the Rock Stars of Science campaign are scheduled to perform.

It’s an impressive looking event, with a lot of research and message discipline behind it to push support for biomedical research.  It’s also an excellent reminder of how biomedical research groups have advocacy much better organized than groups focused on other disciplines.  It doesn’t hurt the biomedical research cause that it’s easier to communicate its value to people.  More folks know someone who suffered from a serious illness than know a scientist, so there’s less of a cognitive gap between messenger and recipient.

And, of course, since I only just know heard of it, that should emphasize that my science and technology policy knowledge and experience is very much weighted in non-biomedical fields.

All said, it’s a little weird to see a “Celebration of Science” labeled as such when it’s a bit more specific than that.  So pardon my cognitive dissonance.

There is an interesting item on this evening’s Kennedy Center program – Genes and Jazz.  Turns out that National Cancer Institute (and former National Institutes of Health) Director Harold Varmus has collaborated with his jazz musician son, Jacob, in a presentation combining music and animation to convey the barely controlled chaos of genetic activity.  Varmus père is no stranger to bridging what Snow called the ‘two cultures’ of science and the humanities.  He has a well-received memoir and literature degrees to stack on his mantle next to a Nobel prize in Medicine.

Now I’m sore I didn’t know about this Celebration until tonight.

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