Earlier last month we discussed a recent advancement in the STEM field, artificial intelligence. Despite its massive promise in the field of science and medicine, AI proves to be just a drop in the proverbial bucket of advancements that we have seen in the field of science and technology. Francis Collins, the drector of the NIH, has seen first-hand the evolution of medical and scientific technology. In a recent article in TIME magazine, Dr. Collins discusses his vision for the future of science.

In his interveiw, Collins highlights the need to harness the power of gene editing, expand the reach of cancer immunotherapy, map the human brain, and build on personalized healthcare.

The highlight of this article, for me, comes when Collins talks about the unknown challenges that we face as scientists. He emphasizes the need for more scientists to take risks and to venture into unknown parts of science. Only then can we really start to conquer the unknown parts of science.

I can attest to the importance of this kind of thinking. In much of my own research we have seen benefits of many of the compounds we are working with to attenuate chemotherapy toxicity. However, until we started venturing into unknown mechanisms on the tissue analysis did we see the most incredible results. High risk/high reward; this is the most exciting, yet most terrifying side of science.

Dr. Collins’s journey as a scientist has been one of many ups and downs. He has seen the evolution of science and medicine and understands that we need to be doing more to overcome the current challenges in medicine. Everyday, it seems, something new is being discovered in the field of medical science. Recently it was reported that there was a new strain of HIV that was discovered. Another recent article in The Guardian highlights a blood test that might be able to detect breast cancer up to 5 years before traditional mammograms. The point of all my babble here is to come away with one thing. KEEP LEARNING! Science is an ever-changing field that is entering what we might come to call the next golden age in medicine.

Along with being a published scientist, Dr. Collins is also a published novelist. He has authored 4 books on bridging the gap between science and religion. If you are interested in reading his books I highly recommend them.

  1. The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief (Free Press, 2006)
  2. The Language of Life: DNA and the Revolution in Personalized Medicine (HarperCollins, published in early 2010)
  3. Belief: Readings on the Reason for Faith (HarperOne, March 2, 2010)
  4. The Language of Science and Faith: Straight Answers to Genuine Questions with Karl Giberson IVP Books (February 15, 2011)

Education Committee Announcements

Don’t forget the ASIP 2020 Annual Meeting in San Diego April 4-7, 2020 http://asip20.asip.org/

PISA 2020 is happeneing! Join your fellow ASIP members at the Royal Sonesta Hotel in Boston November 7-9, 2020. https://pisa20.asip.org/

Intersted in becomming a member of ASIP? Contact me at alexander.sougiannis@uscmed.sc.edu www.linkedin.com/in/alexander-sougiannis

On October 7th the Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet awarded the 2019 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine to Gregg L. Semenza, Sir Peter J. Ratcliffe, and William G. Kaelin, Jr. for their discoveries of how cells sense and adapt to oxygen availability. Announcing the prize at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, the Nobel committee stated that their discoveries have paved the way for “promising new strategies to fight anaemia, cancer, and many other diseases.”

Each year, the Nobel Prize celebrates the achievements of great scientists and philosophers and the path they have taken to be called a Nobel laureate. For Sir Peter Ratcliffe however, the road to the Nobel Prize took a path less traveled. Surprizingly, his initial paper on oxygen sensing was rejected by Nature in 1992. Ratcliffe presented evidence of genetic responses to hypoxia that was called “unfit for publication” and “beyond understanding.” I don’t know about Ratcliffe, but if my paper was rejected because the contect was beyond the reviewer’s understanding, I would take that as a complement.

Interestingly enough, this has not been the first time that a Nobel laureate’s research has been initially rejected. Theoretical physicist Peter Higgs, who proposed the Higgs model, had his theories rejected by Physics Letters in 1964. He went on to win the Nobel prize in Physics in 2013. Simillarly, Rosalyn Yalow, who won the Nobel prize in Physiology and Medicine in 1977, had her initial paper on radioimmunoassays rejected.

What can we learn from these storeis? It is a lesson we can all benefit from, NEVER GIVE UP! Science is hard, very hard. Science will always be hard. I cannot stress this enough. Arguably, the most important lesson I have learned in graduate school is that the only thing you can control is how hard you work. Believe in your science and keep pressing, even in the face of rejection! More so than most professions, a career in science and medicine is about constantly learning.

Publishing is our way of sharing our excitement and passion for science with the world. Do not be afraid of rejection and most importantly never give up on your science!

Education Committee Announcements

Don’t forget the ASIP 2020 Annual Meeting in San Diego April 4-7, 2020 http://asip20.asip.org/

Intersted in becomming a member of ASIP? Contact me at alexander.sougiannis@uscmed.sc.edu www.linkedin.com/in/alexander-sougiannis

With my first post to this blog I wanted to talk about an exciting new frontier in scientific reserach and clinical medicine. A recent article on darkdaily.com discussed setbacks of the clinical utility of artificial intelligence systems for oncologists and anatomic pathologists. Understandably so, medical professionals do not want to be replaced by computers. However, it seems that every day we get new toys to play with that involve machine learning. So, how can we utilize these tools to improve the quality of science without losing rigor and responsibility? In February of this year, Steven A. Wartman and C. Donald Combs published an article in the AMA Journal of Ethics describing the potential use of AI in medical education. They explain how AI can be used to improve knowledge management in the classroom which can further be translated to greater efficiency in the clinic.

I think we can be doing more! AI can have applications in all fields of science and medicine. We need to work to continue to improve this new tool and use it to better our scientific progress. At the University of South Carolina we have recently created an Artificial Intelligence Institute to boost AI applications in both the research and classroom settings. This is one of many steps we are taking to improve the impact of AI in STEM.

Do you have an exciting way you use AI in your science? Do you want to see AI used more in the classroom? Share your opinion on the use of AI in science and medicine!

Don’t forget the ASIP 2020 Annual Meeting in San Diego April 4-7, 2020 http://asip20.asip.org/

Intersted in becomming a member of ASIP? Contact me at alexander.sougiannis@uscmed.sc.edu www.linkedin.com/in/alexander-sougiannis