Eric Green: The Audacity of Solving Grand Challenges
Eric Green: So the idea of completely reading out the letters of the human genome which basically meant decoding our blueprint came to sort of crystallization in the late 1980s. And the reason for that was the recognition that if we could get foundational information about our blueprint it would set up a series of studies that would help us better understand human biology and eventually human diseases that might lead to our ability to improve human health. But that was an audacious task. It would require an industrialization, if you will, a scallop of a scientific effort that was really unusual for biomedical research.
You know, biomedical researchers traditionally they have laboratories of, you know, six or ten people. They work on profoundly difficult problems and they like to explore. They like to sort of ask big questions. This was very different. This was a very focused effort. A very defined agenda. Sequence the human genome. To do that was gonna require multiple countries. It was gonna require thousands of scientists and it was gonna require a number of years – originally slated for 15 years and it ended up taking 13 years. That is why the analogy to putting the man on the moon has often come in because the idea that was a very focused goal. We are going to do something. It’s gonna be a grandly large project requiring many people but a very defined goal. We’re gonna put a person on the moon.
And so that was something that biomedical researchers looked at and said, “Wow, we never do anything like that.” Until the Human Genome Project. And I think that’s really the first example in biomedicine of a defined large scale project. I would say in hindsight now looking back on it ten years ago when we finished the project, I think biomedical researchers have gotten much more comfortable with doing these large science endeavors, recognizing that we still need lots and lots of individual scientists working around the country and around the world pursuing important biomedical research problems. But at the same time when you have a big, big question or a big, big problem putting together a consortium of scientists in a very organized way is something we’ve gotten much more comfortable with, especially in genomics.
Directed/Produced by Jonathan Fowler and Dillon Fitton
In the Human Genome Project, multiple countries and thousands of scholars proved how a "grandly large project" could be completed if it has "a very defined goal."
Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.
No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.
A disturbing interview given by a KGB defector in 1984 describes America of today and outlines four stages of mass brainwashing used by the KGB.
- Bezmenov described this process as "a great brainwashing" which has four basic stages.
- The first stage is called "demoralization" which takes from 15 to 20 years to achieve.
- According to the former KGB agent, that is the minimum number of years it takes to re-educate one generation of students that is normally exposed to the ideology of its country.
It's up to us humans to re-humanize our world. An economy that prioritizes growth and profits over humanity has led to digital platforms that "strip the topsoil" of human behavior, whole industries, and the planet, giving less and less back. And only we can save us.
- It's an all-hands-on-deck moment in the arc of civilization.
- Everyone has a choice: Do you want to try to earn enough money to insulate yourself from the world you're creating— or do you want to make the world a place you don't have to insulate yourself from?
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.