Biology and Medicine

Only the freedom of the researcher can ensure courageous research that is not just aimed at profitability.

Research should be thought of as a rainbow

A rainbow comprises a continuous spectrum of colours, but there are a few dominant colours that stand out: there is basic research, clinical research and traditional research, and the three form a continuity while each preserving their specific characteristics.

The rainbow also acts as a bridge, linking the world of research to the City, with its needs, and the social issues in which researchers are involved.

It is still a commitment. According to Irish folklore, there is a leprechaun living at the foot of every rainbow, guarding a pot of gold. This pot symbolises the "wealth" of research, which produces advances in knowledge, and can generate clinical applications. This wealth may also entail some negative results, but good-quality research which does not necessarily verify the original hypothesis is still good research. It is crucial to highlight it and communicate its results in order to guide other researchers.

Taking care of the specifics also means accepting differences. While research may be a goal in itself for biologists, it is often simply a means for clinicians. These are two laudable approaches, linked by the "translation", which is also important to respect.

Similarly, it is vital to ensure the widest possible freedom, while bearing in mind that research must ultimately be useful. The great paradox of the researcher's position is that their freedom allows them to avoid hijacking from the market, a system where only profitability matters. Instead, their freedom promotes research in the service of humankind, and not just the market.

This freedom comes at a price, however. It relies on public funding, and it is therefore our duty to do everything we can to highlight the fruits of that research. In a broader sense, we can do this by publishing it, by communicating it, by sharing it, and by bringing together resources to advance science and medicine.

Professor Jean-Daniel Tissot
Dean of the Faculty of Biology and Medicine of the University of Lausanne
Director of the Department Training and Research at Lausanne University Hospital

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