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Mon Nov 9 20:01:52 CET 2009

Ready for a rapid, radical reboot of the global innovation system for
a truly free and open 21st century knowledge economy? Join us at the
first Open Science Summit, an attempt to gather all stakeholders who
want to liberate our scientific and technological commons and enable
an new era of decentralized, distributed innovation to solve
humanity=92s greatest challenges.

It is trivially true that Science and Technology are the most powerful
drivers of progress and prosperity. However, there is a tremendous and
tragic gap between what is possible, and the shameful scenario that
prevails today.

The well known =9310/90=94 gap references the fact that only 10% of
biomedical spending goes toward conditions that affect 90% of the
world=92s population.  Under this regime, =93diseases of the poor,=94 such
as Malaria, are neglected, while companies focus on =93blockbuster=94
drugs for conditions that affect citizens of the wealthiest nations.
This situation, appalling though it is, actually grossly understates
the systemic flaws of the prevailing biomedical innovation paradigm.
Framing this as a tradeoff of Market vs Social Values or the need for
balancing commercial interests with public health, implies that the
bio-pharma industrial complex works for what it purports to do.  If
only we could find some way to engage or tweak existing mechanisms,
we=92ll make it through.  Wrong!

In fact, despite billions of dollars invested and decades of research,
there has been little to no progress in recent decades even for
extremely =93lucrative=94 conditions like depression or  =94lifestyle=94
applications such as hair loss. Millions of =93wealthy=94 patients in
developed countries suffer from horrific chronic diseases, poorly
understood and difficult to treat auto-immune disorders, and
degenerative conditions such as Parkinson=92s and Alzhiemer=92s.  In the
United Sates, a silver tsunami of aging baby boomers threatens to
overwhelm an already strained healthcare system.  Simultaneously, life
expectancy for the youngest generation is falling for the first time,
as an epidemic of obesity, diabetes, and associated preventable
conditions mocks the notion that we=92ve made progress.  The world lacks
rapid response capability to emerging pandemic viral threats, and
bacteria such as Tuberculosis and MRSA have out-evolved our
antibiotics, leaving humanity vulnerable to an age old foes once
thought conquered.

There is plenty of blame, shame, and pain to go around.  Governments,
Academia, and Industry alike, are all implicated.  Certainly, it is
tremendously difficult to develop and deploy new therapies, but the
hideous expense ($1 billion+ for a new therapeutic) and long timelines
(17 years to market) are unsustainable.  Its not all doom and gloom.
Game changing new technologies, genomic medicine and regenerative stem
cell therapies among them, can cure, not just treat, some of the most
intractable diseases that plague humanity today.  Expending more
resources without deep organizational change will not bring progress.
The broken business models of the 20th century are not adequate to the
challenges we face.  We can and must do better.

Just as disturbing as the innovation shortfall of recent decades, is
the barometer of public opinion. Appallingly large numbers of people
ascribe to the =93anti-vaccine movement.=94 Vaccination is the single
greatest tool ever devised for public health, responsible for triumphs
such as the eradication of Polio and Smallpox.  To arrogantly dismiss
public fears as hysterical or uneducated, even if there is some truth
to this, fails to acknowledge the greater truth that we have not
provided the transparency, education, and honesty (in the form of
disclosing potential conflicts of interest where they arise), the
public requires if it is to trust the global scientific and medical
establishment.  When scandals such as =93Climategate=94 occur, the
integrity of Science itself is undermined at precisely the moment we
need it most.

With the falling costs of basic enabling technologies, we could choose
to embrace a new golden era of citizen science, an era in which
amateur investigators have ever more powerful tools with which to
investigate themselves (via personal genomics), and their
environments.  Such a participatory paradigm shift can make all the
difference.  Only a renegotiation and reaffirmation of the social
contract for science can open the path to a successful future for us
all.  The Summit attempts to chart that course.

Students interested in attending the conference can contact us
regarding discounted student rates.

- Bryan
1 512 203 0507

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