Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Obama White House, Thinking Bigger

Last year--it would appear that the date was April 2012--Thomas Kalil, Deputy Director of the The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) released a report entitled, boldly and hopefully, "Grand Challenges." The document covered many important areas, from digital education to self-driving cars.

But here on the Cure Strategy front, we can focus in on Slide #15; and in particular, take note of Point 2. below:
The text of Point 2. reads,

Regenerative medicine routinely replaces damaged tissues or organs–ending the agonizing wait for an organ transplant.  

That's a great idea; unfortunately, progress toward that goal by the Obama administration seems to be invisible.

In the meantime, of course, in June of this year, the Sarah Murnaghan case erupted into public consciousness, and the administration ended up looking like the heavy, in saying no to little Sarah's lung transplant--the administration was soon overruled.

In fact, on June 19, I wrote an opinion piece for The American Conservative in which I took note of the Sarah Murnaghan case, arguing hat the only long-term viable solution to the medical and ethical issues surrounding Sarah's case was technological.  That is, figuring out how to mass-produce organs, thus alleviating the shortage.

As I wrote: 

Both parties could work together on a post-scarcity healthcare vision in which innovation and abundance go hand in hand. The two parties could start by working jointly to expand the supply of lungs and other organs. More organ-donors would be great, but even greater would be a new biotech industry of organ production, through non-embryonic stem-cell cloning, maybe, or 3-D printing.

Is all this the stuff of science fiction? Not any more. It can be real, if we as a nation want it to happen. New medical science is the stuff of human hope, and it’s also the basis of new jobs and industries here in America.

And yes, it’s even the basis of a politically winning healthcare agenda—for one or both parties.

Yes, it's still a politically winning healthcare agenda--for one or both parties.

And the Obama administration just took a step in the right direction--a year ago.  Since then, in the Murnaghan case, it has seen what happens when officials don't push technological abundance--they get gored on the horn of "austerity."   As I argued in that AmCon piece, austerity has its place, but it is simply not popular when applied to the life of a 10-year-old.

By contrast, if the Obama administration had energetically followed Kalil's lead, it would have had a much better message on the Murnaghan case.

So now, in 2013, we'll have to see which leader, and which party, takes the next step, and the next, and the next.

H/T Jeremy Shane.

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