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Celebrating Today’s Visionaries, Inspiring Future Leaders

Innovation Center May 12th, 2017

This week, the New York Academy of Sciences continued its year-long bicentennial celebration – a remarkable milestone for any institution.  The Academy did so by reflecting on its illustrious legacy, honoring contemporary scientists who have made significant contributions to our world, and inspiring the next generation of innovators.

Paul Stoffels, MD receives the New York Academy of Sciences Honorary Membership from NYAS President Ellis Rubinstein.

In the two hundred years since its founding, the Academy has been witness to incredible scientific revolutions – from the first theories of evolution to the elucidation of the Big Bang Theory, from the development of the Periodic Table to uncovering the structure of DNA.  Among its member ranks are such science greats as Charles Darwin, Niels Bohrs, Louis Pasteur and Alexander Graham Bell.  

Thanks to the continued work by the scientific community, we have eradicated Smallpox, sequenced the human genome and elucidated many mysteries of life. The work of today’s remarkable scientists was honored last night at NYAS.  Among those who were recognized was Johnson & Johnson’s Chief Scientific Officer, Dr. Paul Stoffels.

Dr. Stoffels was honored for his visionary leadership in advancing healthcare innovation through the research and development of new drugs, and for tirelessly championing initiatives that fuel the life sciences ecosystem and foster novel solutions for global public health challenges.

For me, Paul and several other honorees stood out because they represent a modern-day science leader and break the stereotypical scientist mold. They focus their efforts on translating science for impact and work outside of their own niche to connect others to deliver solutions that no one individual or organization can accomplish alone.  By honoring this diverse group, NYAS has recognized that science is most effective when translated into benefits for society, and that the contributions of both academic and industry scientists are essential to achieving transformational change. 

Of course, despite the many achievements over the past two centuries, many challenges remain. That is why we need to empower the future generation of scientists to be ready to take up the baton and drive the next wave of innovation. Yesterday, we saw presentations from dozens of students taking part in Challenge 2030 whose enthusiasm and sense of purpose are exactly what we need. Between the accomplished leaders and the eager young STEM students I met last night, I was left feeling energized by the power of possibility. Who knows what the next 200 years will bring?

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