Scientists are fighting a war on many fronts, writes Lewis Kay, a University Professor appointed to the University of Toronto's departments of chemistry, biochemistry and molecular genetics, in the Globe and Mail.
Their battlefield is the laboratory, where they are combating microbes, neuro-degenerative diseases, climate change, future pandemics and many of the world's other complex problems.
Kay, also a senior scientist at SickKids hospital and the winner of both the 2017 Canada Gairdner International Award and the 2018 NSERC Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal, says victory depends on a commitment to education and curiosity-driven research.
“The history of science has proven that ultimately advances made in seemingly unrelated areas and on topics that don't appear to have any practical applications will shed light on the seminal problems of society,” he writes.
He praises the federal government's most recent budget, which devotes $925 million in new funding for investigator-led research through Canada's three federal research councils over the next five years.
But, he writes, now is not the time to stop. Canada must continue to nurture the next generation of scientists and researchers involved in curiosity-driven discovery.
“We know that it is only by funding critical scientific endeavors that scientists will be able to continue to tackle the world’s most complex problems,” he says.