Summary: Claire M. Fraser, PhD, University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM), called for profound changes that will leave the U.S., and the world at large, better prepared for the next global pandemic.
Original author and publication date: Deborah Kotz – April 13, 2021
Futurizonte Editor’s Note: The changes needed are not to go back to “normalcy”, but to move forward to the new future.
From the article:
Genomic medicine pioneer and leader Claire M. Fraser, PhD, director of the Institute for Genome Sciences and the Dean’s Endowed Professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM), recently concluded her year as president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) with a stirring lecture at the group’s annual meeting.
In the address, she called for profound changes that will leave the U.S., and the world at large, better prepared for the next global pandemic. Such changes, she said, include the need to address the systemic racism and health disparities that led to higher COVID-19 hospitalization rates and death rates in Black communities.
Her forceful call for change also included a reframing of climate change policies to help the public understand the immediate and long-term health benefits of lower carbon emissions, including cleaner air and potential protection against future epidemics.
With much of her tenure focusing on the COVID-19 pandemic and the worldwide upheaval it caused, Fraser decided to focus her lecture on “Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic in an Interconnected World”. She delivered the plenary lecture Feb. 8 at the 2021 Annual Meeting, which she chaired. The entire address can be viewed here on YouTube.
This year’s meeting was virtual, with online lectures and sessions to discuss the latest research. With 120,000 members from more than 91 countries, AAAS is the world’s largest multidisciplinary scientific society and the publisher of the well-respected Science family of journals.
Fraser opened her remarks by explaining the theme of the annual meeting, “Understanding Dynamic Ecosystems,” which she chose before COVID-19 to focus on the complex networks that we study, and those in which we live and work.
“To me, one of the most fascinating attributes of ecosystems is that of emergent properties – a term that has been used in science, systems theory, philosophy, urban studies, and even art,” Fraser said in her opening remarks.
“When we talk about emergent properties, we refer to those properties that are entirely unexpected, based on our understanding of the individual components of any given ecosystem – the properties that arise from the collaborative functions across scales.”