澳门金沙官方可靠平台网站:Antipodes Science : Peter Doherty...downloaded

日期:2019-02-27 06:02:08 作者:诸葛圳邵 阅读:

PETER DOHERTY, a vet from Brisbane, has always wanted to have a fire engine named after him. The good burghers of Memphis, Tennessee, Doherty’s current place of residence, could well oblige. Doherty is now chairman of the immunology department at St Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis. He shared this year’s Nobel Prize for Medicine with his long-time colleague Rolf Zinkernagel from Switzerland. They won the prize, worth A$1.42 million, for work done between 1972 and 1975 at the John Curtin School of Medical Research in Canberra. The pair discovered how the immune system recognises infected cells and targets them for destruction (see This Week 12 October, p. 6). Doherty, aged 56, grew up in Oxley, a suburb of Brisbane, and attended lndooroopilly High School. He gained a bachelors degree and a masters degree in veterinary science at the University of Queensland in the early 1960s before completing a PhD at the University of Edinburgh in 1970. After the Nobel Prize-winning work at the Australian National University, Doherty went to the Wistar Institute in Philadelphia. He returned to the ANU in 1982 as head of the department of experimental pathology. He has been at St Jude since 1988. Doherty, and his wife Penny, have been in Australia for most of November. They attended the wedding of their son, James, in Melbourne. Doherty was guest of honour at a reception hosted by Prime Minister John Howard at Parliament House. Last Monday, he gave a public lecture at the Queensland Institute of Medical Research, and he has addressed specialist scientific meetings in Canberra, Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. He also filled in at the last minute when a keynote speaker from England pulled out of SCICOMM 96 in Melbourne, an international gathering on the public communication of science. Despite his residence in the American south, Doherty regards himself as Australian. “I look like one and I talk like one,” he told New Scientist. His speech at SCICOMM was a rollicking, off-the-cuff affair, judged by many as the most entertaining of the conference. Referring to the Nobel Prize, he said: “I realise that for the rest of my life I have to show up and smile nicely. I can dine out on it for years.” He was still in the “acute media phase”, he said. The call from the Nobel committee in Stockholm came through at 4.28 a.m. “I was told I had two minutes to make personal calls, then the phone would start ringing.” Within a few minutes he had spoken to German radio, Portuguese radio and on a talk-back show in Bogota, Columbia. “I had to get Penny to call someone so I could go to the bathroom.” The last call was at midnight to the Sydney Morning Herald. Then came the weeklies, such as the science supplement in the New York Times. A British microbiologist described him in the NYT as being “crotchety” like Eeyore, the laconic donkey in Winnie the Pooh. Since then his science friends have been sending him stuffed donkeys. In his talk, Doherty was anything but crotchety. He praised the media, specially in Australia, for the way his story had been handled. He had to defuse one furphy that he had discovered the cure for arthritis. “The science journalism community (in Australia) has become much more sophisticated,” he said. His colleague Zinkernagel had to deal with a full page ad being taken out in a Zurich newspaper the day after the prize was announced. It claimed Zinkernagel, who had been speaking out in favour of gene technology, was in cahoots with the Nobel committee and two drug companies. “You can’t influence the Nobel committee,” said Doherty, “no one knows how it works.” An investigation by a science journalist found that a disaffected scientist was behind the ad. But the ad, said Doherty, was an example of the anti-intellectual and anti-science mood rampant in parts of Europe. Enormous damage, he said, had been done to molecular genetics and the biotechnology industry in Germany by overly strict regulations. “Well-meaning people can push science in the wrong direction,” he said. He warned Australia not to follow the German path. “Procedures and safety measures should be reviewed, but not the actual experiments. Nothing could be more stultifying. You can’t control the day to day workings of science. You will kill science if you do that.” In an interview with New Scientist, Doherty elaborated on some of the themes of his SCICOMM talk. The applied aspect of science had been oversold in Australia, he said. “Unless you do basic science, you won’t discover anything new. Science will just be derivative. Innovation will come from the basic research.” Government, he said, must support basic research, but there also needed to be an awareness among scientists that the research could be exploited. Basic research is where the solutions to problems come from. “If you put more money into care you get a better iron lung for polio patients, if you put it into research, you get a vaccine.” In the US, most institutions had offices dealing with scientific discoveries and their exploitation. Discoveries, he said, were being protected by patents. It was also the government’s job to make sure there were no legal or tax barriers to investment in research. “Australia, with its layers of government, has been a highly regulated and over-governed society.” Scientists, he said, must talk to the politicians. “If we don’t make the effort, we don’t deserve to be supported.” Doherty wasn’t afraid to enter a debate that is raging within higher education in Australia. Some universities, he said, should do little or no research and concentrate on teaching, while others should have the infrastructure to do basic research. University undergraduate courses should be restructured so that science students are introduced to the liberal arts and arts students have a year of science. After winning a Nobel prize, Doherty will be in demand on the lecture circuit. But he plans to keep his own research group going. His particular interest is immunological memory. “How does the body remember it has encountered a pathogen? How does it retain resistance for so many years? Even though this principle has been the centre of vaccines since Jenner,