December 11, 2013

Success in science: It's not totally a zero-sum game of identity politics, you know?

Here's a Stanford U. press release from 2009 that somehow strikes me as relevant to the current editorial in the New York Times about how white males are hogging all the science education, and to the subsequent debate over whether the only reason women seem to prefer biology and the other life sciences to physics and the other death sciences ("Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds" -- J. Robert Oppenheimer, July 16, 1945) is because of malign social forces:
Stanford cancer expert Ronald Levy receives King Faisal Prize in Medicine 
BY JANELLE WEAVER
 
STANFORD, Calif. — The development of a drug that has revolutionized the treatment of many types of cancer has earned its inventor, Ronald Levy, MD, the 2009 King Faisal International Prize in Medicine. 
More than 30 years ago, Levy, now chief of the oncology division at the Stanford University School of Medicine, embarked on a research agenda that harnessed the power of the body’s own immune system to fight cancer. Levy developed the concept that a drug made from a naturally produced blood protein called an antibody could be a cancer-fighting machine.
On March 29, Levy, who holds the Robert K. and Helen K. Summy Professorship at Stanford, will be honored for this seminal discovery by Saudi Arabian royalty, who will present Levy with his most prestigious international award to date. 
Rituxan, the drug that resulted from Levy’s work, was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1997, making it the first commercial antibody to treat cancer. “Now it’s recommended for treating almost every lymphoma patient, and over 1 million people have been treated with it so far,” he said. 

I was the first patient in the United States with my precise version of lymphoma to be treated with Dr. Levy's Rituxan in 1997.
According to Levy, when combined with other drugs and radiotherapy, Rituxan is successful at reducing tumor size in most patients who are treated. Originally developed for the treatment of lymphoma, a cancer of the immune system, this class of drug is now part of the standard treatment for a wide range of cancers, including cancer of the breast, colon and lungs. “Monoclonal antibodies have transformed the way cancer is treated,” said Levy, who is a member of the Stanford Cancer Center.

The Saudi royal family seems to have a more sophisticated understanding of the positive-sum benefits of meritocratic competition in science than does the New York Times Editorial Board.

33 comments:

Gubbler of the Society of Reformed Chechenistics said...

"King Faisal International Prize in Medicine"

I guess if Arabs can't put their names on the list of winners, they can at least put their names on the list of givers.

ben tillman said...

On March 29, Levy, who holds the Robert K. and Helen K. Summy Professorship at Stanford, will be honored for this seminal discovery by Saudi Arabian royalty....

I see. This is a discovery by Saudi Arabian royalty, but Ronald Levy gets a prize. Would it kill the NYT to hire an editor?

ben tillman said...

Whoops -- I see now that that linguistic atrocity came from a Stanford press release. That's even worse.

ESLL.D said...

If you think their English skills are shaky, try the student body...

jgress said...

Hm "Levy" sounds Jewish. I wonder if that will be a problem.

jgress said...

@ben tillman: It's ambiguous, but you can get the reading you want. Of course, a good editor would have pointed out the ambiguity and recommended a less ambiguous sentence.

Gubbler of the Society of Reformed Chechenistics said...

I should hand out Gubbler Awards. It'll consist of a free can of beer and some chips. It'll cost me a little, but at least my name will be associated with all the geniuses around the world.

Anonymous said...

"The Saudi royal family seems to have a more sophisticated understanding of the positive-sum benefits of meritocratic competition in science than does the New York Times Editorial Board."

Only when it comes to OTHER countries.

jgress said...

Also I think old King Faisal looks a lot like the Iranian-American actor Navid Negahban, who stars as the terrorist leader Abu Nazir in the Homeland series.

Mark Plus said...

Arabs have a long history of respecting and depending on Jewish physicians, so this shouldn't surprise anyone.

Anonymous said...

Ronald Levy is, more or less, a random lottery winner. Lots of people saw the promise of monoclonal antibodies and even more quickly realized that humanized versions will be required to make them work as real drugs. He merely happened to stumble upon the one of the few winning versions. Monoclonals are still useless against vast majority of other cancers.

Steve Sailer said...

But not mine.

SFG said...

"Ronald Levy is, more or less, a random lottery winner. Lots of people saw the promise of monoclonal antibodies and even more quickly realized that humanized versions will be required to make them work as real drugs. He merely happened to stumble upon the one of the few winning versions. Monoclonals are still useless against vast majority of other cancers."

That's research. Most of the time, it doesn't work. You don't know which ones won't work ahead of time.

Anonymous said...

Would Saudis have given this award to a woman scientist? And would she have been allowed to drive herself to pick it up in Saudi Arabia?

23 nswFpr said...

Svigor, where are you? Please point out the inevitable Jewish angle in this.

ben tillman said...

@ben tillman: It's ambiguous, but you can get the reading you want. Of course, a good editor would have pointed out the ambiguity and recommended a less ambiguous sentence.

Why is it in the passive voice in the first place? Ceteris paribus, the active is better than the passive, and the use of the active voice here would have been an easy way to avoid the ambiguity.

Hell, the sentence would have been much clearer if someone had just deleted the "t" in "this". That's what an editor is for.

Mr. Anon said...

That was magnanimous of the Saudis to give thier prize to a man named Levy. It was also smart; arabs get sick too. Good for them.

And of course, good for Dr. Levy. He has achieved one of the highest honors to which a person may aspire - to be a benefactor of humanity.

Xavier said...

If Jonathan Chait gets the blame for Judah P. Benjamin, does he get the credit for this guy?

Anonymous said...

I am reliably informed that Israeli professors who have an international reputation and have a second passport from anywhere, are regularly invited to high-paying jobs at Saudi universities.



>> "Levy" sounds Jewish. I wonder if that will be a problem.

The rumor mill runs rife with stories of Passover Seders being held in Saudi, officiated by US military chaplains.


None of the above social facts threatens the standing of the Saudi Royal Family. For them, there's only one question in the world:

"is it good for the Saudis?"


Wasn't it the Bahrainis who found a female Jewish Bahraini citizen to send to Washington as the Ambassador to the USA? Why not. all real operational decisions are Actually made by the Tri-lateral throne holders, talking with ComFifthFleet.

Israeli Minister of Trade Naftali Bennet recently made a presentation at an OIC-agricultural-subcommittee meeting in Jakarta. Indonesia doesn't recognize Israel. Bennet claims he was approached by several delegations, wanting to talk detailed price/terms of kibbutz-manufactured irrigation gear. Israel is a net importer of meats, so it's rather easy to set-up (say for example) beef shipments from australia/canada/argentina TO Israel which were funded through several layers of international-bank-letters-of-credit. That's sufficient to stop most journalists from knowing who paid for what. Panamanian bankers know how to keep secrets.

Anonymous said...

But not mine

Lucky for you, Steve. A friend of mine died from non-Hodgkin's lymphoma at 35. Rituxan (then at the early stages of development) did not help her...

jody said...

seems like every rich organization wants to have their own science/engineering/medicine award these days. i guess it's a prestige thing, like showing that hey, i drive a mercedes too.

at least here the wealthy 'me too!' ostentatious display is a positive thing. the nobel committee misses stuff now, and the scope of their awards don't allow them to cover tons of more important stuff in fields outside of the narrow bands which they established over 100 years ago.

with this particular case, since it would seem to clearly fall under one of the fields which they do recognize, i'm guessing the nobel committee long ago decided that they would not be awarding medicine awards for particular drugs, in the same way they probably decided there would not be any physics awards for materials science. or if those things were to be awarded, the recognition would be rare, and only awarded under the condition that the new drug or new material have broadened and deepened fundamental understandings in their fields.

viewing it this way, it would seem only even certain sub fields within the broader 3 main fields are eligible for a nobel science prize. excellent work coming out of other sub fields, which is useful enough that it makes it out of the lab and into every day life, is essentially exempt from recognition.

Steve Sailer said...

The Swedish Crafoord Prize -- the top old evolutionary biologists like E.O. Wilson and W.D. Hamilton enjoyed getting this prize for fields that don't have Nobels. But it doesn't seem to have developed much of a profile in the U.S.

Anonymous said...

I think the NYT editorial board deserves credit for being so candid about their cultural Marxism. "And so it has come to pass that some of the people making money in tech are the Wrong Kind of People...therefore let the anointed ones step down from the Cathedral and give that money and power to Good People who will support us instead etc. etc."

It is not surprising that even Wahhabi Fundamentalist Sunni Muslim reactionary monarchists in Riyadh are more receptive to opposing views, AKA true diversity, than our ruling class of leftist SWPL totalitarians in Manhattan and DC.

Steve Sailer said...

What are the odds that Prince Bandar came up with the idea for this King Faisal Prize?

Anonymous said...

http://www.the-american-interest.com/articles/2013/12/08/the-decay-of-american-political-institutions/

Anonymous said...

What are the odds that Prince Bandar came up with the idea for this King Faisal Prize?

Seriously Steve you have to ask???

see
http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/12/06/bibi-and-bandar-badger-obama/

Oh yes the deep and eternal friendship of Israel and Saudi Arabia against the nefarious Persians....

2500 years ago Cyrus the Great and Xerxes were the saviors of the Jews (see Book of Esther), and more recently the Shah of Iran and even, though secretly, the Ayatollah during the Iran/Iraq war. During the Iran/Iraq war the Israelis sold upgraded US anti-tank weapons to the Iranians.

Now Iran, that since the mid-1980's the good doctor Krauthammer has been tell us is months away from having a serious deliverable nuke, must be bombed flat in order to protect our close ally the Saudis and rest of the gulf state Sunnis who bankroll Al Qaeda and Global Jihad.

Anonymous said...

"Levy" sounds Jewish. I wonder if that will be a problem.

"is it good for the Saudis?"



Seriously does anybody listen to "conservative" talk radio??

Take WIBC here in Indianapolis, part of EMMIS Communications network, owned by Jeff Sumlyan a true raging NeoCon.

Almost everyday we have well connected local neocon Tom "Rose" among a half dozen other neocons guests like David Horowitz lecture nominal host/goyim straight man Greg Garrison on how Bibi is literally the savior of the West, a greater Churchill than Churchill and how Israel and its new BBF Saudia Arabia must convince the USA to bomb the crap out of our joint existential nuclear threat Iran.

This award is all about convincing the rubes that the Jews and Saudis are "natural" allies. That is until after the Iranians are flatten. Then the Neocons will immediately start screaming for the USA take out the next greatest threat to OUR DEMOCRATIC CLOSEST WESTERN ALLY POOR DEFENSELESS ISRAEL.... you guessed it, the Saudis.

Sulla said...

Expect a female Fields Medalist to emerge approximately once every 103 years (there are yet to be any.)

http://www.lagriffedulion.f2s.com/math.htm

Anonymous said...

In southern california the salem radio network owned by edward atsinger III is the disseminator of neocon lies. Atsinger is Christian but salem radio is obsessed with punishing its listeners with endless news and opinions about Israel.

Whiskey said...

The Saudi Royal family is known to have a lot of cancers and genetic defects, the Saudi population at large has one of the highest, and that's without the level of in-marriage that the Saudi Royals practice. So, this makes sense, throwing money at smart guys even if Jewish to save your life.

There's very few when their lives are at stake that will not make compromises somehow on their ideology.

As far as the Saudis and Israelis go, they are former client states offered protection by the US (Saudis in 1944 by FDR, Israelis by JFK in the 1960s) cast off in the Cold War aftermath.

It used to be US policy (the Carter Doctrine in fact) that the US would assure military dominance, and protect satellite nations who got protection and offered up intel and oil, respectively, for said protection. That pretty much ended with Obama.

The Saudis had him already to go to bomb Syria and bloody Iran's nose, and he would not stay bought. He double crossed them. As such there is a temporary marriage of convenience by the worlds biggest cheap oil producer and potentially one of the biggest cheapest off-shore natural gas producers (Israel) to stop the joint Russian-Iranian "close down the Gulf oil production" cartel so world oil prices skyrocket.

"Diverse" America no longer has the will to enforce the Carter Doctrine, Obama is like the Harlem Nazis of the 1930s and 1940s (via the VDARE column by James Kilpatrick) who reflexively sides with America's enemies. So Israel, the Saudis, Japan, Australia, India, Europe, all are casting about for desperate support.

So yeah nuclear war is coming. What do you think is responsible for the massive decline in war deaths 1946-present? Humanity "evolving" or moral preening or ... the Cold War duopoly?

Commenters here don't get it. What America thinks or does is now irrelevant. We've left the field. The Saudis, Israelis, Japanese etc. are all on their own and know it. If Obama resigned tomorrow to become a signer for the deaf with Jazz Hands, nothing would change in that regard.

Felix M said...

"The Saudi royal family seems to have a more sophisticated understanding of the positive-sum benefits of meritocratic competition in science than does the New York Times Editorial Board."

Sophisticated? Nope. Realistic? Yep.

Anonymous said...

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2013/12/03/think_again_mexican_drug_cartels#sthash.3rGr3i3D.dpbs

"Despite what's happening in Chicago and other U.S. cities, there has been almost no appetite at the federal level for tracking the effects of the DTOs on domestic crime. Proponents of immigration reform have no wish to promote stereotypes of immigrants as dangerous criminals. Advocates for higher and longer border fencing acknowledge the danger but prioritize major cities and more populated areas, failing to realize that this tactic simply shifts cartel operations to remoter areas that are harder to control. Governors of states that border Mexico have little interest in drawing attention to crime that results from their inability to contain the DTOs. And Washington does not want to antagonize the Mexican government over its law enforcement shortcomings, particularly given that Mexico's cooperation is critical to addressing a host of other issues, such as immigration."

Does the last sentence make any sense?

American elites want amnesty. Mexico wants amnesty. They are in agreement. So, why should the American government make concessions to win over Mexican support when Mexico is already in full agreement with what the American elites want.

Anonymous said...

"The Saudi royal family seems to have a more sophisticated understanding of the positive-sum benefits of meritocratic competition in science than does the New York Times Editorial Board."

"Sophisticated? Nope. Realistic? Yep."

And yet SA produces no brains at all.