I have to post this thought of Harald zur Hausen, a scientist I feel proud of working in the same institution as him. He had a life-long battle to convince people of the consequences of his scientific discoveries: that a common virus that was formerly considered simply to cause some cosmetic problems in fact could be responsible for the majority of cervial cancer in woman. Nowaday it is obvious that 90% of this tumor type, and about 20% of larynx and pharynx carcinoma are a direct consequence of chronic infections with pappilomavirus HPV16 or HPV18. Nowaday, young woman can get vaccination (free of charge) to protect them from the virus, and thus minimize their tumor risk by a factor of 10.
With an annual incidence of about 8 cases per 100.000 females, the HPV vaccination (introduced 2006) might have saved already thousands of woman from developing this cancer. It would be nice to grant Harald zur Hausen a bonus payment for every life that was saved thanks to his discovery.
For today, I’d like to express my gratitude by citing his scientific precept:
The fear of following a speculative, risky approach that is beyond our current textbook wisdom is detrimental to any further progress. Real discoveries were never achieved on a path via established paradigms and fear of conflicts.
I shall mention that I need some mental support from a person like him, since on Monday I have to presnt something on my work on our annual institutes retreat. I already know that this whole event will go exactly along mediocre, established concepts of science.