Informing the Public
LSF is trying to help biotechnology enhance its public profile. Mark Jones, the foundation’s director of research, believes the life sciences have been neglected: “Ask people on the street who was responsible for their iPhone or iPad. They’ll tell you. Millions rushed to bookstores to purchase the Steve Jobs biography. Jobs was a fascinating character, and Apple makes wonderful products, but life scientists are trying to save lives, feed the world, and solve our pressing energy problems. There is plenty of compelling drama in biotech. We intend to put it on exhibition.”
Jones explains that a big part of LSF’s mission is to “humanize” the biosciences. LSF intends to tell tales about people—scientists, inventors, entrepreneurs, managers, executives, and financiers—the men and women who work to advance scientific knowledge, generate technological innovations, secure material prosperity, and improve lives around the world.
These stories are full of color. They take place in laboratories and clinics, universities and research parks, pharmaceutical factories and chemical refineries, boardrooms and executive suites; on Sand Hill Road, Wall Street, Capitol Hill, and at the FDA; in the corn fields of Iowa, rice paddies in Asia, and African yam gardens; in the Gulf of Mexico, where genetically engineered microbes are cleaning up an oil spill, and the world’s oceans, where vast reserves of biodiversity are being mined for valuable goods. Biotech stories are set wherever processes of life have been used to transform and enhance the human condition.
Arnold Thackray emphasizes that the message is for students, teachers, scholars, journalists, and policymakers. “There is a valuable heritage here. The life sciences will shape the course of the 21st century. We need to preserve their history. We need to teach young people about the world in which they live.”
According to Thackray, the task is urgent; the biotech industry is still young, but the founding generation is already passing away: “Records are being scattered, memories are fading, stories are disappearing. Once lost, they’re gone forever.”