Optimizing Science

If we are to retain our best and brightest scientists, research institutions and funding organizations are due for some self-reflection on how policy affecting scientists is formed. The culture of science is often one of optimization, because that is how science itself is conducted. The reality, however, is that optimization in the science world has often ignored the human circumstances of life as a scientist.

Optimizing for risk and perceived return on investment has disadvantaged young scientists and created a competitive environment in which our most talented principal investigators end up spending more time on grant-related activities than research. Optimizing for translational value has come at the cost of basic research that leads to our most incredible breakthroughs.

As “A Future Defunded” (Winter 2018) illustrates, we are losing many of our best scientists because certain policies treat science as a production pipeline rather than a career. It is essential that we find ways to ease the burden of competing for funding, to create stable career options worthy of talented postdocs—even if there is not a faculty position available for them—and to formally seek input from young scientists as we try to solve these problems. A generation of American science is at stake.

Justin Q. Taylor // Co-Founder, Academics for the Future of Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Mass.

Technology and Education

The Dawn of the Bionic Pancreas” (Winter 2018) is a poignant and timely article on the trials and tribulations of living with type 1 diabetes and how the growing use of technology and artificial intelligence is improving both health outcomes and quality of life. Although the artificial pancreas or fully “closed loop” insulin delivery systems in development are confined to research studies, a hybrid version (Medtronic MiniMed 670G) has hit the market, and more are on their way.

But it is important to keep in mind that technological advances in diabetes management cannot succeed unless patients remain active participants in their care, making healthy meal and physical activity choices to work in concert with the medication regimen.

At NewYork-Presbyterian and Weill Cornell Medicine, we empower our patients and give them the knowledge and tools they need to take control of their lives and their disease. Comprehensive diabetes education to master new automated devices, along with mobile health and other forms of remote decision support, will offer ongoing guidance to make it easier to live well with diabetes.

Jane Jeffrie Seley // Diabetes Nurse Practitioner and Program Manager, Inpatient Glycemic Control, NewYork- Presbyterian and Weill Cornell Medicine, New York, N.Y.