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Editor's Letter

Let's Give 'Em Something To Talk About...

The cornerstone of Scientific American Worldview—our annual Scorecard, evaluating the life science innovation capacities of countries around the globe (page 36)—emerged from a desire to bring a much-needed critical eye and third-party transparency to the international landscape of biotechnology. We are proud to have done this for seven years now, adding an objective, data-driven voice to an arena with a lot of unchecked cheerleading. This year, we add another data-led feature—albeit far less quantitative—titled The Worldview 100 (page 8), celebrating the most influential people in biotechnology, as determined through nominations and selections from our international panel of experts. As with any list, this one will sure- ly spawn differences of opinion about the people on it and those missing. Ultimately, though, driving discussion lies at the heart of this publication’s mission. We want to encourage readers to explore biotechnology from a broad and global perspective.

Two sections—one on turning an idea into a product (page 22) and another on the successes, failures and future directions in communication about biotechnology (page 30)—trigger fresh ways of thinking about these topics. We continue this focus on fostering new dialogue with articles about the impact of location on drug development (page 66) and which countries excel and flounder when it comes to attracting biotechnology investment (page 68).

We did not, however, set out to spark debate from every element of the 2015 Scientific American Worldview. And few are likely to contest one “list” in this year’s edition, which highlights some of the top innovators in medicine and two of the patients who reaped the benefits (page 72) of modern medical ingenuity. As in previous years, our “Country Spotlights” section (page 76) will take readers on a tour of science-in-action, showcasing biotechnology success stories around the planet.

Last but far from least, the worldVIEWpoint (page 84) essay reveals a modern, data-infused approach to finding a science-based “fountain of youth.” The author, a pioneer in stem cell therapeutics, describes his journey into this field with an ironic story about turning what was once considered medical waste into cutting-edge medical treatments. His success proves that life-changing advances can and do materialize from highly surprising sources.

But that’s just what we seek to uncover—the stories in which something unexpected makes the difference. One of the guiding themes of Scientific American Worldview is that innovation and ingenuity can occur in the most unlikely places. We’ve found evidence of that in every edition of our Scorecard. As our ranking system shows year after year, small or resource-challenged countries can dominate various aspects of biotechnology achievement, and even the giants can tumble on some metrics. This dynamic and developing industry continues to intrigue and amaze us. And we are once again delighted to bring you the people, places and perspectives that are moving it forward.

As always, we offer our profound thanks to our sponsors and partners: Celgene Corporation, Cure Forward, Credible Meds, and The Biotechnology Industry Organization.

Jeremy Abbate, Publishing Director
Mike May, Editorial Director
Yali Friedman, Head, Data Analytics

  • A Guided Tour

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