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Scholars and policymakers alike agree that innovation in the biosciences is key to future growth. The field continues to shift and expand, and it is certainly changing the way people live their lives in a variety of ways. With a large share of federal research dollars devoted to the biosciences, the field is just beginning to live up to its billing as a source of innovation, economic productivity and growth. Vast untapped potential to imagine and innovate exists in the biosciences given new tools now widely available.
In The Biologist's Imagination, William Hoffman and Leo Furcht examine the history of innovation in the biosciences, tracing technological innovation from the late eighteenth century to the present and placing special emphasis on how and where technology evolves. Place is often key to innovation, from the early industrial age to the rise of the biotechnology industry in the second half of the twentieth century. The book uses the distinct history of bioinnovation to discuss current trends as they relate to medicine, agriculture, energy, industry, ecosystems, and climate. Fast-moving research fields like genomics, synthetic biology, stem cell research, neuroscience, bioautomation and bioprinting are accelerating these trends.
Hoffman and Furcht argue that our system of bioscience innovation is itself in need of innovation. It needs to adapt to the massive changes brought about by converging technologies and the globalization of higher education, workforce skills, and entrepreneurship. The Biologist's Imagination is both a review of past models for bioscience innovation and a forward-looking, original argument for what future models should take into account.
William Hoffman has been a writer and editor in the University of Minnesota Medical School for more than three decades. He has worked closely with faculty in genetics and bioengineering and with the medical technology and bioscience industries. He has coauthored books and articles on genetics, stem cell research, and heart disease.
Leo T. Furcht is Allen-Pardee Professor of Cancer Research and Head of the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology in the University of Minnesota Medical School. He is past president of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB). He holds numerous patents on peptides, biocompatible materials, and multipotent adult stem cells.