Recently, I attended Molecular Med Tri-Con, a tradeshow for scientists where they can see and learn about technologies, research breakthroughs, regulatory issues and best practice examples of molecular and translational medicine advances. The key tracks included Diagnostics, Drug Discovery & Development, Informatics and Cancer.
Unlike the 100+ tradeshows I’ve attended, this conference stood out in multiple and somewhat surprising ways. For starters, during one of the keynote addresses, not ONE person left the room, nor did I hear any cell phones ring. Quite a different scenario than when I saw Bill Gates present.
One of the many interesting talks at Tri-Con was Dave Dravecky’s keynote address. Dave is a former San Francisco Giants pitcher whose career ended after a battle with cancer. Sadly, his pitching arm was amputated. Dave has turned his misfortunes into assets and is now a motivational, Christian speaker.
Admittedly, when I read he was speaking at Tri-Con, I wondered why a scientific conference would bring in a keynote speaker to talk about his struggles, trials and tribulations, religion, marital issues and depression. Yes, there are ties with genomics, molecular and biological science, informatics and cancer but those areas were pretty far removed from Dave’s speech. So what was it?
I concluded – perhaps correctly, perhaps not – that the explanation lies in the deep rooted connection between science and philosophy. Then I started thinking about my life-science based clients and the way most spokespeople (typically PhDs) approach challenges and opportunities with optimism, clarity and confidence through an analytical, humanitarian lens.
Perhaps it was the connection between science and philosophy that drove keynote attendance and an almost hypnotized audience to listen with an intensity that would clearly be the envy of any presenter. Or perhaps it was because everyone knows someone who has fought or lost a battle with cancer. Maybe it was because so many scientists are intently focused on unlocking the secrets of the human body. Regardless, I’m confident that Dave and his story will inspire a lot of folks for a multitude of reasons. I’m equally sure that the balance of philosophy and science will remain “genetically” pre-programmed.
Perhaps Percy Bridgman articulated it best in Reflections of a Physicist 1950
“I believe it to be of particular importance that the scientist have an articulate and adequate social philosophy, even more important than the average man should have a philosophy. For there are certain aspects of the relation between science and society that the scientist can appreciate better than anyone else, and if he does not insist on this significance no one else will, with the result that the relation of science to society will become warped, to the detriment of everybody.”
A little bit about me: I am loyal to any brand as long as it works. My beliefs are 1) technology is life altering 2) the opposite of social media engagement is anti-social behavior and 3) there is no substitute for eye contact. When not steeped in client work I can be found enjoying the companionship of equine and canine friends, whose honesty and simplistic needs will forever keep me grounded in reality.