How does new science happen in real time? What new scientific breakthroughs are on the horizon? I had the privilege interviewing the perfect person to answer these questions for a special back-to-school episode of Science Sound Bites, Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). www.tinyurl.com/sciencesoundbites (it is episode 11). You can also find the episode on the St. Jude Educational Outreach Site cure4kids here.
For me, I always like to imagine the NIH as a very large tree.
Sprouting from the trunk of the NIH tree are branches, sprouting from the branches are stems, and sprouting from the stems are fruit. Lots of fruit. Several varieties of fruit, in fact.
Think of each branch on the NIH tree as a broad topic dealing with health, such as infectious disease, cancer, and mental health. Then, the stems that sprouted from each branch would represent sub group of each branch, such as influenza on the infectious disease branch, lymphoma on the cancer branch, and PTSD on the mental health branch.
Now, each stem of the NIH tree has its own fruit, which would be a prospective cure for those issues each stem represented, such as vaccines on the influenza stem, chemotherapeutic on the cancer stem, and counseling on the mental health stem.
So, not all stems have fruit yet, but they are being worked on constantly in hopes that they will one day grow fruit. It is also important to note this tree is planted in the soil of taxpayer support and cultivated by hundreds of thousands of researchers at universities, institutes, and hospitals.
For each disease we find, a new stem grows which will hopefully lead to new fruit. The purpose of this tree is to make each fruit (and the seeds within them) available to as many people as possible so that they may use that fruit to better themselves and society. The better the soil around this tree in quantity (money) and quality (public support/knowledge), the better and more plentiful the fruit.
I hope you enjoy the podcast. Please join me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/sciencesoundbites and like the page to get the latest updates and links because there are more big things planned!!!