Professor Gerdes is a brilliant man. He’s pretty funny to.

Image; Argus Leader

I consider myself lucky to have met Martin a few years ago as a regular at the Touch of Europe. Unlike most intellectuals, Martin has a fantastic sense of humor, and loves to talk politics and baseball. Especially politics. I have had several engaging conversations with him over the years, and he has reinforced my populist views on several occasions. He told me about the work he was doing on heart disease over a year ago, and I am glad to see he is finally getting the press he deserves for his hard work. Martin’s philosophy on heart disease is simple;

Why treat the disease when we can prevent it?

Well, it is simple really, there is a lot more money to be made treating the disease. Why do you think our hospitals spend millions on building heart care facilities and pennies on research? One wonders.



5 comments ↓

#1 Costner on 08.24.10 at 11:53 am

First… your editor should have reminded you the difference between “to” and “too”.

Second, hospitals have historically been treatment facilities. Yes some have expanded into research, but that is still not their primary reason for existence, thus it stands to reason why they would focus upon patient care and treatments rather than prevention.

Universities and independently funded researchers however are working towards research each and every day. The problem is, finding funding for such endeavors is never easy because donors want results, and results don’t happen overnight.

For some reason people feel better donating their name to a hospital if they can get a building or new wing named after them instead of a research team who might be able to cure a disease in 10 or 15 years.

This is why the government continues to be one of the primary benefactors supporting medical research, but since they are broke obviously they can’t fund everything. For the most part such research relies upon private funding from very wealthy donors. The Howards Hughes Medical Institute is one such donor, but from what I understand – ironically it is the last thing Howard Hughes himself would have wanted.

So essentially it just takes a few Billionaires donating their fortunes to cure some diseases, and with the Buffet-Gates partnership trying to ensure this happens… we just might see some great things over the next several decades.

#2 anominous on 08.25.10 at 5:47 pm

Essentially, the miserly rich are the reason we still have diseases in the world.

#3 l3wis on 08.25.10 at 9:06 pm

Yeah, if we can’t make a buck curing cancer, it’s not worth curing.

#4 Costner on 08.27.10 at 2:23 pm

I don’t think you give human beings enough credit for being human. There comes a point where wealth is the only measuring stick – so yes to some degree some people just want to make more and more, but for most of those guys it is more about prestige and power than it is about money.

Trust me, the guy (or gal) who finds a way to cure cancer will be one of the most revered and respected human beings of our century. Books will be written about them, schools and streets and hospitals will be named after them, and people will worship the ground they walk on. If someone had any shot to actually cure cancer, how much money they would make off of it would be the least of their concerns.

Jonas Salk didn’t care about wealth when he developed his polio vaccine, and I don’t think that type of person is as rare in the heath sciences as some might suggest. We often get this image of those big bad drug companies pushing their modern drugs to treat whatever ails us, and there is a lot to fault them for, but behind the scenes several of those companies continue to research vaccines for diseases that would never really be profitable for them in the long run because there is a lot more profit to be made with a pill someone has to take for decades rather than a shot they get once in a lifetime. Sometimes you need to sell the sizzle and not the steak.

#5 Detroit Lewis on 08.27.10 at 9:30 pm

Trust me. While Mr. Gerdes has done well for himself, you hit the nail on the head, it is about the discovery, not the wealth. I think he would be just as happy sleeping in my loft eating rice cakes and ramen noodles as he is now.