Last night I attended an elegant dinner at the New York Public Library (sponsored by Johnson & Johnson and Scientific American) where the 2013 Dr. Paul Janssen Award for Biomedical Research was presented to Dr. David Julius.
Dr. Julius received the award for his role in identifying the molecular mechanisms of touch, pain, and thermosensation. A scientific slam-dunk.
The highlight of the evening wasn’t the chicken and rice pilaf – it was Dr. Julius’ speech where he highlighted the inherent tension (“not conflict”) between the translational research and “curiosity-based science.”
A bold topic in a room filled with J&J’s top brass.
And an important topic for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the steady decrease on NIH funding for academia (a trend likely to continue unless they strike oil in Bethesda) and the nascent uptick in the outsourcing of pharma R&D to ivy-covered halls.
Per Dr. J, academe and industry and Uncle Sam are going to have to find new ways not only to mutually co-exist – but also to fruitfully collaborate.
At the end of the day it’s all about encouraging innovation, both incremental and discontinuous.
(I asked Dr. Julius to send me his remarks, and when they arrive I will be sure to post them.)