MATH AWARENESS MONTH - APRIL 2002

MATHEMATICS AND THE GENOME

From the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center President

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From Harold Varmus, President of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, to Dan Burns, Chair of the Mathematics Awareness Month 2002 Advisory Committee.

The NIH can wage an effective war on disease only if we--as a nation and a scientific community, not just as a single agency--harness the energies of many disciplines, not just biology and medicine. These allied disciplines range from mathematics, engineering and computer sciences to sociology, anthropology and behavioral sciences, as well as chemistry and physics.

Biology is rapidly becoming a science that demands more intense mathematical and physical analysis than biologists have been accustomed to using. For example such analysis will be required to understand the workings of cell signaling systems.

In the last twenty years, molecular and cell biologists have moved much closer to the "radical physical explanation" of cell behavior that the physicist Max Delbruck called for in 1949. I take this opportunity of Math Awareness Month 2002 to encourage young people with skills in these needed quantitative and physical fields to join us in working collaboratively towards Delbruck's "radical physical explanation" for biological systems. Dr. Harold Varmus
President, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center,
former Director, National Institutes of Health,
and Nobel Prize Winner (Medicine, 1989)

[For further comments in this direction, see Dr. Varmus's remarks to the Centennial Meeting of the American Physical Society, March 22, 1999.]

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