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Academic Perspectives/Panel Discussion

01/09/2004 3:15 PM Wong Auditorium
Douglas A. Lauffenburger, Ford Professor and Head of the Department of Biological Engineering, MIT; James Cassatt, Director, Division of Cell Biology and Biophysics ; National Institute of General Medical Sciences; Acting Director, Center for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology
National Institute of General Medical Sciences, National Institutes of Health; Leroy Hood, President, Institute for Systems Biology; H. Steven Wiley, Director, Biomolecular Systems ; Pacific Northwest Labs; Huntington Willard, Director, Institute for Genome Sciences and Policy Duke University; Marc W. Kirschner, Professor of Systems Biology; Harvard Medical School; George Poste, Director, Arizona Biodesign Institute; Arizona State University ; ; Peter Sorger, Director, Computational and Systems Biology Initiative (CSBi),MIT ; ; David Botstein, Director and Anthony B. Evnin Professor of Genomics Lewis-Sigler Institute of Integrative Genomics, Princeton University

Description: In this wide-ranging discussion, panelists seized on redesigning science education as a way of ensuring the success of systems biology. The first challenge lies in improving instruction in the earliest years. David Botstein said, "K-12 education has never been that great '(kids) don't need to know everything in excruciating detail '.Anything they find out by themselves is worth 10 or 20 of anything you tell them to do." Mark Kirschner remarked, "What's left out is appropriate kinds of inquiry, and at the appropriate age." Leroy Hood spoke with master teachers and "understood that the worst way to teach was lecture." Another obstacle lies with the culture of higher education, where scientists are rewarded for focusing on a single specialty and for research, not teaching. George Poste pointed to "rampant egotism that's destructive," preventing collaboration. Peter Sorger commented, "Autonomy is given to faculty members in classroom. We need expectations. Students will gravitate to those courses that are taught well." A major hurdle for budding systems biologists involves embracing a larger biology. Matt Scott spoke of building "excitement about things beautiful and mysterious." Other panelists expressed hope that the diversity of living things would generate a passion not only to understand the fundamental interdependence among all living things but to preserve species as well.

Host(s): School of Science, Computational and Systems Biology

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MIT World — special events and lectures

MIT World — special events and lectures

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