I look upon ourselves as partners in all of this, and that each of us contributes and does what he can do best. And so I see not a top rung and a bottom rung – I see all this horizontally – and I see this as part of a matrix. And I see every human being as having a purpose, a destiny, if you like – the destiny that exists in each of us – and find ways and means to provide such opportunities for everyone.
― Jonas Salk
GapSummit 2017 brings together leaders from all arms of biotech and pharma. This Summit not only welcomes viewpoints and expertise from different sectors of biotech (legal, research, quality control, etc.), but also diverse global perspectives from across the world. While globalization in biotechnology can refer to expanding commercial interests, it is also an opportunity to identify the pressing challenges and gaps in health delivery throughout the world. Everyone comes to the table with different priorities and interests, and as we learn from one another, we grow in our understanding of the issues ahead that we must face together. At the end of the day, our global biotech market functions to improve human health – not just health in a particular country or region – human health.
Science has no borders and neither does the pharmaceutical industry. The recent election has caused scientists to shift uncomfortably in their seats, as they wait to see how President-elect Trump’s policies on science, climate change, research and innovation change their landscape. Given we seek to bring professionals in the life science industry together to solve current problems and prepare them for the future of biotechnology, the news of President-elect Trump’s election to the highest seat in American politics came as a shock. There are serious concerns of the negative impacts that extreme nationalism, xenophobia, and isolationism will have on scientific progress and discovery. Globalization allows for scientists to work in other countries. It facilitates scientific discourse that positively influences human health by fostering collaboration and communication.
Economic resources are limited; therein lies the challenge of carefully allocating scarce resources to meet the unlimited wants and needs of society. Technological advances used for the cutting edge development of medicines, the production of food, houses or any other basic human needs, can only be achieved through globalization. Scientific intellectual silos will not supply the increasing demand for technological advances. The interaction and integration of ideas from companies, societies and governments across the globe will not only facilitate cultural diffusion but will also sustain the technological demand and supply equilibrium.
A huge proportion of the U.S. scientific workforce is made up of immigrants who chose to be here for a better future. By promoting ideologies that make people think twice about living in or moving to America, the U.S. scientific enterprise will suffer. The impact of the U.S. election may also have effects outside our borders, and while the U.S. election is not the first example of withdrawal from global cooperation, take Brexit for example, the influence of the U.S. on the world cannot be underestimated. It will be interesting to see if nationalism and isolationism take root in other Western nations as well. Nevertheless, young scientists now have an obligation and a responsibility to be stewards of an inclusive scientific environment in the U.S. for the benefit of humanity.
by Jeff Teoh
Dr Kirill Gorshkov
and Dr Andong Nkobena
GBR is not a political organisation. However, GBR’s core mission is to connect generations of current and future biotech leaders to address the grand global challenges and gaps. GBR believes emphatically that solutions for global problems will only arise through scientific discovery driving smart economies and underpinning effective policy-making. Such advances will require an inclusive and diverse scientific community. We hope the incoming administration considers these values as it sets the agenda for the US as a global leader in science, innovation and technology.