Western University of Health Sciences About WesternU Western University of Health Sciences
About WesternU

Benchmarks of Value

November 19, 2014

Hello everybody:

Slightly less than a week ago, the engineers and scientists behind the Philae, a robotic European Space Agency lander deployed with the Rosetta spacecraft, achieved something extraordinary: A transfer of the Philae from the Rosetta to the surface of Comet 67P/Gerasimenko, as all three objects hurtled through outer space. One writer described it thusly: “They essentially moved a clunky machine from one speeding bullet onto another, by remote control, from 300 million miles away.”

The scientific and engineering feats of space exploration, and the valuable knowledge gained each time humans tread the heavens, have been nearly miraculous in their breadth and depth for more than half a century. Still, I was struck by the singular accomplishment of the Philae and its team, whose members worked for years to get their crafts into space, then waited more than a decade for them to rendezvous with the comet.

It’s enough to make one believe that, truly, anything is possible with enough imagination, skill, resources, time, and opportunity. Indeed, I liken the long and challenging path Philae took to achieve its destiny with the course being charted by those involved in all areas of the health sciences today – clinicians, teachers, students, public health educators, and everyone else who cares deeply about the well-being of humankind.

The world of health and health care 20 years from now will not be the world we know today, just as the technology, knowledge base and scientific resources of 2014 are not what they were when Rosetta and Philae took to the skies in 2004. Over time, skills expand and improve. Technology becomes more efficient and precise. Diagnoses and prognoses become, ideally, more thorough and accurate. The “system” gets better, works better, and helps more people.

What will our world – health care, research, education, WesternU itself – look like 10, 20, 50 years from now? Ask the heavens, for the answer is in the stars. But about this one thing I am certain: Those who dream to the farthest reaches of their imaginations; who constantly ask “Why not?” and “Why not me?”; who lead with a nobility of purpose and clarity of vision such that others cannot help but contribute to the cause – these souls will help realize better health and better care for all, in ways we can barely fathom today.

They, and we, will take to heart the lesson taught by Rosetta, Philae, and a far-off comet: Anything is possible.

As always, I welcome your feedback on this topic and any others as we discuss WesternU’s Benchmarks of Value, and our plans. Please e-mail me with your thoughts at ppumerantz@westernu.edu, and feel free to share this message with your family and friends.

My best to you all,