2017-2018 Bauer Summary

Cover from 2017-2018 Bauer Brochure

The M.R. Bauer Foundation Colloquium Series, Distinguished Lecturer Series, Annual Scientific Retreat, and Summer Science Research Fellowship

Basic science drives modern society. Advances in technology, medicine, health care, and other areas, made possible by investments in research, are entwined with our lives. There is much to marvel at and be amazed by.

But policies made far from campus may hamper our progress. The dramatic decline of federal support for basic science is affecting emerging and veteran researchers alike. There is urgency, since so much research, which can change entire sectors, is at stake. While our peers recognize the value of our work, decision makers increasingly undervalue the contributions of scientists. We must bridge that gap. Scientists cannot remain disengaged from the public discourse. We must educate government, industry, and the community about the importance of basic research.

Why? Because groundbreaking basic science has profound implications for human health. Last year, my Volen colleagues, Michael Rosbash and Jeffrey Hall, were awarded the Nobel Prize for their pioneering work on circadian rhythms. This work was done in the fruit fly but the findings allowed us to finally begin to understand the human clock. The full role of circadian rhythms in health and disease are just starting to be revealed, but it is clear that this basic science finding is going to bring important changes to the lives of many. The recognition of their work by the Nobel Committee should renew our joy in the process of discovery and the generation of new knowledge—and animate the public conversation.

There are other ways for us to gain inspiration. We are fortunate to have the support of the M.R. Bauer Foundation, which recognizes that the Colloquium Series, Distinguished Lecturer Series, and the Annual Retreat enable us to reflect and plan ahead. The Volen National Center for Complex Systems is richer for these gatherings, and it is clear that they stimulate our students, postdocs, staff and faculty in diverse ways.

Finally, we must redouble our efforts in training the next generation. Again, the M.R. Bauer Foundation, along with other generous donors, provide resources for undergraduate summer research fellowships. You may read about their experiences in this brochure, and they join me in encouraging you to be a mentor at your institutions. Student collaborations with Brandeis faculty prepare them to assume the mantle of leadership. These undergraduates, like the postdocs and other young scientists who were fortunate to join the Rosbash and Hall Labs, are ambassadors and are the future of science.

Leslie Griffith, MD, PhD Nancy Lurie Marks Professor of Neuroscience
Director, Volen National Center for Complex Systems