George Church
Professor of Genetics, Harvard Medical School

Re: What is your counsel?

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Terrorism is not a public health threat relative to cancer.

George Church

George Church is a professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School and a professor of health sciences and technology at Harvard and MIT. In 1984, Church, along with Walter Gilbert, developed the first direct genomic sequencing method and helped initiate the Human Genome Project. Church is responsible for inventing the concepts of molecular multiplexing and tags, homologous recombination methods, and DNA array synthesizers. Church initiated the Personal Genome Project in 2005 as well as research into synthetic biology. He is director of the U.S. Department of Energy Center on Bioenergy at Harvard and MIT and director of the National Institutes of Health Center of Excellence in Genomic Science at Harvard, MIT and Washington University. He is a senior editor for Nature EMBO Molecular Systems Biology.

Question: Collectively, what should we be doing?

Transcript:Well there’s almost nothing that we’re not doing at some level. We could be spending more money on it, but that means we have to be spending less money on something. So it’s really where we move the money from and to. I’m not going to be very profound here. Anybody could say we should be spending less money on wars, especially since we are no longer really seriously threatened. Terrorism is not a public health threat relative to cancer, and heart disease, and malaria and so forth. We need to move that money into things that are health threats and threats to educating the population. If the population were educated it would solve a lot of problems, both scientific and political. So that’s a huge reprioritization that we have historically not been very good at doing. Certainly there are fewer American deaths with each war that we’ve had for the last few wars, but that really isn’t solving the problem of money being spent. And money is life in a certain sense. That money is not being spent on healthcare, education and scientific progress.