The ones to watch

May 9, 2013

Thanks to the Centre for Science and Policy, a constellation of UK research stars gathered recently at the Royal Society to hear Sir Mark Walport and others ponder “future directions for scientific advice in Whitehall”. The government’s new chief scientific adviser addressed a variety of pressing issues such as intellectual property, innovation and the economy (“Scientific growth areas”, News in brief, 25 April).

Nonetheless, what struck me most at the conference was not the audit of intellectual property or the premier league of academics present. Rather, I was increasingly impressed by the human capital represented by all the younger scientists helping out with the event, including research fellows from universities and practitioner-researchers from high-tech businesses.

For this grey-haired population scientist, the key lesson, if the knowledge economy “goes for growth”, is simple: look after the postdocs!

Woody Caan
Professorial fellow
Royal Society for Public Health

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