Friday, April 28, 2017

Standing Up for Science

SOLIDARITY AT THE STATE HOUSE: MGHers and supporters pause for a photo at the State House on their march to the Common.

“Science is the scaffolding, the power, the engine that drives society forward. It represents progress and knowledge and answers,” said Peter L. Slavin, MD, MGH president, at an April 22 MGH rally where more than 400 staff, along with family and friends, gathered before the March for Science Boston. “Look around you at these buildings where care is being delivered, where research is under way, where scientists and caregivers are being trained. Science is healing our patients, relieving pain, restoring lives, offering health and hope. The MGH is science.”

Several MGH groups – including the MGH Healthcare Advocacy Committee, Physicians for Policy Action and the Research Institute – organized the hospital rally where participants gathered for brief remarks, then marched together to the Boston Common to join thousands of other participants from across the state with the goal of uniting a diverse and nonpartisan group to celebrate Boston as a place for scientists and scientific research. Boston was one of hundreds of cities around the world that held marches this Earth Day. The events celebrated the discovery, understanding and sharing of scientific knowledge and championed publicly funded and publicly communicated scientific knowledge.

“MGH is a community of doctors, nurses, therapists and caregivers, dedicated to healing the sick,” said event organizer Regina LaRocque, MD, MPH, Infectious Disease Unit. “We are a community of people from around the world, we are immigrants and children of immigrants, and we come together here at MGH for a common purpose.”

Despite the rainy weather, MGHers filled the Bulfinch tents with high spirits and handmade signs. “We are here today because MGH is also a community of scientists. Science is the underpinning of the health care we provide and the lifeblood of our work,” said LaRocque. “Today, we join with others from around Boston and the entire country to remind our leaders that science must shape public policy and inform the laws we enact. We are here today to show that science is a vital feature of a working democracy, spurring innovation and critical thinking.”

U.S. Rep. Stephen F. Lynch, who attended the MGH rally, said, “This is not the time to abandon public scientific research. Especially at a time in our world’s history when countless breakthrough discoveries to lengthen life, to cure disease, to expand our boundaries have been made, we should not be backing down. We should be doubling our research efforts. This generation of Americans needs to be leading the world not just in military power, but in scientific research. This generation has a responsibility to lead in research and to share the benefits of that research across the world.”

Following these remarks, the MGH group marched along Cambridge Street, past the State House to the Boston Common, joining the larger demonstration and celebration of science.

“Right now in a lab somewhere in this country – maybe even at the MGH – a scientist is following a hunch, probing an idea, figuring out a pathway that in 5, 10, 20 years will have a life-altering impact on thousands, maybe millions of patients,” said Slavin. “We must make sure that our hospital, our nation and our society have the resources and the will to allow this nascent and promising idea to germinate, grow and flourish.”



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