At our recent New York Salkexcellerators event, an attendee suggested the public might pay more attention to science, if only it were more like the clothing company Hermès. "They come out with something new and sexy every year," said the fashionable guest.
It may sound surprising, but the analogy to fashion is quite apt. In the future, we will no longer have one-size-fits-all treatments for illnesses such as cancer. As our cover story explains, the aim of genomic medicine is to enable the new era of bespoke therapies, also known as personalized or precision medicine. Often, differences in responses to medical interventions are caused by the genetic makeup of the patient. Many drugs work by interrupting or boosting particular processes in cells, but those processes are the result of a chain of events that involve many different proteins and enzymes. A patient may lack a receptor that a drug targets, or (more fortunately) have one that makes it even more effective. With further discoveries, both the patient's genome or, in the case of cancer, a tumor's genome, will be analyzed to design individually targeted therapies.
Indeed, even now the conduct of basic biomedical research is recognizably similar to the fine craftsmanship of an atelier, rather than a mass production line. Here at Salk, small teams of extraordinarily creative, highly trained and enormously hardworking individuals strive together to perfect the tiniest details. Our laboratory heads, such as Ron Evans, the subject of our "One-on-one" feature, provide opportunities and training for graduate students and postdoctoral researchers. These are the leaders of the next generation of science, many of whom, like cancer specialist Dinorah Morvinski, profiled in this issue, have already made significant contributions.
The amount of work and time required for basic biomedical research is why we appreciate all the more that you, our readers and contributors, are joining us on our journey to discoveries. We thank you for your curiosity and your generosity. While it may be hard to convince you that science is sexy, we do come out with extraordinary discoveries almost every day of the year. Stay tuned, the best is yet to come.
Thank you for your continued support and commitment.
William R. Brody, M.D., Ph.D.
President, Salk Institute
Irwin M. Jacobs Presidential Chair