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September 19, 2007

Beyond the Teachable Moment

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliation: American Association for the Advancement of Science, Washington, DC.

JAMA. 2007;298(11):1326-1328. doi:10.1001/jama.298.11.1326

Biomedical research is advancing at a fantastic pace, regularly yielding new diagnostic tools and treatment approaches. “Personalized medicine” at last seems to be a realistic research product in the not-too-distant future. Yet despite great biomedical advances that continue to be applauded by the public, there is increased tension in the broader relationship between science and the rest of society. This tension is a symptom of at least 2 factors: a lack of understanding by the general public related to the nature of science and scientific evidence, with a concomitant reluctance to demand an evidence base for medical treatments and the increasing encroachment of science on issues related to core human values and beliefs. For science to truly serve society, biomedical scientists need to take advantage of all opportunities to engage more fully with the public.

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