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From the President’s Desk: Carolynn Cooper

Posted on Thursday, February 15, 2024

A story on NPR about the best scientific inventions caught my attention recently.  They asked people what they believed was the most important scientific contribution.  As you can imagine, the answers varied greatly.  Some answers were obvious, like fire, but most were more personal.  One contributor said the washing machine as it freed women to do more with their lives.  My grandmother would have suggested the vacuum cleaner.  Prior to having a modern vacuum, she had to drag rugs outside and beat them, a process that took hours out of her day. Another person suggested indoor plumbing since modern sanitation eliminated so many diseases that were once common. 

For me, it would be antibiotics.  I was a sickly child who often got strep throat.  Without antibiotics I would most likely have developed rheumatic fever. I might have died or become an invalid.  For many others, it may be chemotherapy.  We have a friend whose cancer diagnosis would have been a death sentence a decade ago.  Now he takes a simple pill that allows him to manage his disease.  If you are a type-one diabetic, insulin makes life possible.

This, of course, ties back to our mission.  The scholars we support are working on research that could lead to the next idea that will transform our lives.  It could be new drugs to cure currently untreatable diseases, ways to reverse damage to our environment or innovations that enable us to live on Mars.  What scientific advancement are you most grateful for?