On December 5-7, over 150 leaders in biotechnology and life sciences, including journalists, activists, policy makers, a high school teacher, artists and thinkers, gathered in Palm Springs, on the high desert to discuss and debate stem cells, drug pricing, science and politics, what works and doesn't work in the economics of biotech, and the future of life.
Over the course of 2 1/2 days we packed in 24 hours of panels and fireside chats; presentations of leading-edge science from our BioAgenda Innovators and new ideas for reform of biotech and life sciences in our BioAgenda Challenges. On the opening night, we watched scenes from plays on scientific themes and had a world premiere of photographer Mariana Cook's new series, "The Faces of Science."
We worked the participants hard and left many with their heads spinning, but the comments were universally positive about the experience and the uniqueness of assembling so many different points of view delivered by smart, articulate speakers about crucial issues and policies. Participants said that they needed more time to ask questions, and more time to download and discuss in longer breaks, but we achieved the major goal of our young effort -- to get people thinking, and talking. Nearly everyone said they would return.
Look for transcripts and reports from the summit on this site in the coming weeks and months! To see the final program, topics, and speakers, click here.
Another item of feedback from participants is where we go with the excitement generated by the summit. What is the plan of action? In 2005, BioAgenda plans to launch an aggressive program to continue the dialogue by holding events around the country. We also plan to launch our nonprofit biotech policy institute (click here to read more about it). The first order of business for the institute will be to turn material from the summit and other BioAgenda events into reports and white papers.
Then it will be up to us all to disseminate this material -- to executives, scientists, politicians, activists, and the public; to ramp up the intellectual vigor of the debate by presenting data, analysis and the assembled opinions of diverse groups.
Dates to look forward to:
- April or May 2005: Discover Magazine will publish an article and edited transcript of our final panel at the summit, the Discover Roundtable asking: "How does science move forward in an age of political polarization?", moderated by Atlantic Monthly writer James Fallows.
- June, 2005: BioAgenda will officially launch our effort to start a biotech and life sciences policy institute.
- Late 2005 or early 2006: The second annual BioAgenda Summit.
Also look for events and programs in your area, to be announced.
Thanks to all who participated -- our participants, speakers, underwriters, Board of Advisors, Council of Journalists, co-organizers, and the amazing BioAgenda Team!