Science vs politics?

Contributed by Ning Chin

The advancement in science is often pursued because technological improvement is supposed to improve our life. Researches in biological sciences are especially important to improve our health and general wellbeing. But science does not get implemented in our daily life quick enough. This is partly due to the rigorous self-policing nature of the scientific community in making sure that all the facts line up correctly, which is good. Another part has nothing to do with science and facts itself, but on policy-maker. With the recent change in White House, people are concerned about the president’s acknowledgement of the scientific facts. We always like to think that a person’s life is invaluable – everybody has the right to live. However, this is not the case. The cost and procedure of getting health care in the U.S. is way too complicated.

The lag between scientific discovery and its implementation cost lives. I recently attended Dr. Joe DeRisi’s talk in UC Davis, hosted by the Integrative Pathobiology grad group on campus. He talked about several clinical cases where medical doctors misdiagnosed patients based on symptom-based-diagnosis, causing the patients to suffer; while a quick RNA sequencing was able to diagnose the culprit for the disease – some patients could have been cured earlier and spend less money. Real improvement of sciences is when it is accessible to the general public. However, scientific advancement is always slow because of other social issues – politics, poverty, debate on human rights, etc. Genome sequencing is extremely useful in forensic science – but we can’t have a whole genome sequencing database because people are worried about privacy issues – worried about how is that going to cost them if their health insurance finds out.

There are diseases where our scientific knowledge is still not enough to cure it. I’m confident that someday we’ll find a cure, because scientific knowledge is being built-onto by researchers all over the world. But there are also curable diseases that happens only because people who have the power to decide, decide not to help. Do these people die of illness? Or poverty?

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