Life science is a vast field of study that attempts to address some of humanity’s most fundamental concerns. It looks at anything from a blue whale breaching the ocean’s surface for oxygen to a sugar ant moving across a kitchen counter to the microorganisms that control your digestive system. It examines how we live, where we live, and how we might improve our lives.
The oceans, the earth, the sky, the deserts, the tundra, the woods, and the mountains are all explored by life science. Knowing how life works on our planet might help you appreciate the world we live in and how important it is to safeguard it. Wouldn’t you be more appreciative of a pond you pass every day if you were aware of the complexity of the processes that operate in and around it?
Life science may also show the awe you have within yourself. Our bones are composed of stardust, and we carry universes and supernovas in every cell of our body, according to life science. Your body performs a million tiny tasks a day that are all critical for keeping you alive without you even realising it, and while all of those minuscule processes are taking place, while you are bursting at the seams with an incomprehensible amount of life, you’re walking down the street to your job like every other day of your life.
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The top six positions in the life sciences rankings are extremely consistent, with the top six positions for 2018 remaining unchanged from 2017. There is some shifting in the bottom half of the top 10, with the University of Cambridge climbing five spots from 14th position last year to join the top 10.
Harvard Medical School
The Harvard Medical School, which employs almost 10,000 full-time academic members and counts 15 Nobel prize winners among its employees and graduates, is responsible for two-thirds of the university’s research output.
National Institutes of Health
The US National Institutes of Health (NIH) is the world’s biggest single public sponsor of biomedical research, with a budget of US$37 billion in 2018. It is directed by Francis Collins, a physician-geneticist who formerly served as the director of the National Institutes of Health’s Human Genome Endeavor (HGP), the world’s biggest collaborative scientific project.
According to the Nature Index, life sciences is a substantial contributor to Stanford University’s high-quality research output. It is the site of groundbreaking research in DNA synthesis, stem cell isolation, and the world’s first successful human heart and lung transplant.
The Stanford School of Medicine, which has over 2,000 full-time faculty members, dominates the university’s life-sciences output and has the greatest funding per researcher ratio in the United States, with US$381 million in NIH funding.
Chinese Academy of Sciences
The Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) has been the sole Chinese institution in the top ten of the Nature Index for biological sciences for the past four years. In the 2019 Annual Tables, Peking University, the second highest rated Chinese institute in this area, is ranked 39th for biological sciences.
Many of CAS’s 105 institutes are focused on life-sciences research, with the Shanghai Institutes of Biological Sciences being the most prominent (SIBS). The Shanghai Institute of Neuroscience, which published key papers in 2018 on the neural mechanisms that underpin itchiness (The Journal of Neuroscience) and more targeted gene-editing using CRISPR–Cas9, was founded in 1999 by eight Shanghai-based CAS life-sciences institutes, including the Shanghai Institute of Neuroscience (Nature Neuroscience).
New Science has the potential to make medicine far more accurate and successful, but will its high cost keep it out of reach for the majority of people? We think we can apply what we’ve learned over the last year to solve system and patient cost concerns while continuing to drive the research, development, and delivery of innovative medicines for all diseases. Changes may – and must – be done in the foreseeable future.