Science, the priceless heritage from the West, has made many human lives longer, richer and happier. Yet, as it stands today, Science can at best ameliorate but it cannot cure cancer, AIDS and other deadly diseases. The reason is simple. Research at the most fundamental cell-physiology level has been misguided from the start. Efforts to steer the cell-physiology research to a validated new direction met first with enthusiasm and some criticisms---in time all answered. Then criticisms gave way to contentious acts of less and less honorable kind. The assault nearly annihilated the reformers, but not before the new approach had given rise to what some believe to be the medical technological breakthrough of the century: MRI. This document shows how the pervasive peer review system---which decides on everything--- has drastically suppressed research and progress in cell-physiology and why if the stranglehold of repressive practices in this basic science is not broken, Mankind may lose the chance of curing cancer and AIDS in the foreseeable future, and of reaping the even greater rewards ---including possibly Mankind's own survival---from understanding the (only) remaining major domain of relevant basic science. Paradoxically, this crisis also offers an unprecedented opportunity for renewal. That is, if through your help and the support of one or more philanthropists--- to resume what other philanthropists of the past have once accomplished so magnificently for American medicine and for basic scientific research---, enthusiasm, integrity and legitimate cell physiology will be restored to their rightful places and a victory-bound War on Cancer, AIDS and all other dreaded diseases launched forth to the lasting gratitude of all humanity. Gilbert N. Ling, Ph.D.
"Not only will men of science have to grapple with the sciences that deal with man, but---and this is a far more difficult matter---they will have to persuade the world to listen to what they have discovered. If they cannot succeed in this difficult enterprise, man will destroy himself by his halfway cleverness." (Bertrand Russel, 1872-1970)
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful and committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has" (Margaret Mead)
After a quarter of a century of research and the expenditure of 29 billion dollars, the War on Cancer has not produced a cure. Incidence of certain specific kinds of cancer has been reduced but the overall annual cancer death rate has not. Instead, it rose from about 331,000 in 1970 to 564, 800 in 1997. The corresponding annual cancer death rate per 100,000 population rose from 162.8 to 210.0. On an average day in America alone, more than 1500 men, women and children die from cancer.
Then a new killer disease appeared. First officially announced in 1982, this disease is caused by a virus, later named HIV. For the first time in history--- known to mankind at least---this virus has learned to destroy our primary defense against infectious diseases, the immune system. Hence the name, Acquired Immunity Deficiency Syndrome or AIDS. Gloom and doom prevailed at the 10th International AIDS Conference held in Yokohama, Japan in 1994.
A year later, there was a sudden turnaround---an event reminiscent of the early optimistic days in the (won-and-lost) war on TB. Again a combination drug therapy of three drugs---each one ineffective by itself---when given together did wonders (though still no cure). Patients and many workers were jubilant. Others warned "that it is only a matter of time before multi-drug-resistant strains of HIV emerge..." Still others decried the high cost (estimated at between $15,000 to as high as $150,000 per year just to keep alive a single patient), which makes it beyond the reach of all but the wealthiest. Yet it is among the poor that AIDS is spreading like wild fire. Having said all this, I must add that others with varying degree of expertise in this field claim that HIV had nothing to do at all with AIDS or is only a part of its causes. Thus it is entirely possible that we know much less than we think we do about AIDS.
Nor is AIDS alone. While Richard Preston's "The Hot Zone" focussed on the Ebola virus; Laurie Garrett's "The Coming Plague" describes a whole gamut of new infectious killer diseases.
But neither author could have foreseen that the mad cow disease can cross species barrier to produce the 100% fatal brain disease in humans (the Creutzfeld-Jakob disease) after eating beef from diseased cattle. Even more scary, this is an new and different category of disease. It is not caused by bacteria, fungus, parasite or virus, but by a normal protein gone berserk in its way of folding. So strong is this wrongly-folded protein, it cannot be destroyed by severe measures that destroy normal proteins, including baking at 700 degrees. Named "prion" , it can spread to other similar proteins causing them also to fold in the same wayward fashiion, and eventually fatally turn normal brains of the host organism , be it cow or human, into sponges.
Nonetheless, Laurie Garrett's study abundantly showed that microbes have evolved new genes making them more deadly and resistant to wonder drugs (singly or in combinations); they have also found ways to pass their deadly genes to other microbes, even those belonging to a different species. As target of microbial attack, human beings are not alone. Species after species of toads, frogs and birds have vanished in rapid succession. Initial investigation on the cause of death of "western toad" suggests opportunistic infections due to immune-deficiency--- like those seen in AIDS patients. Domestic honey bees are also succumbing to mite-mediated viral infection in scale unknown in bee-keeping history. Wild honey bees have virtually vanished.
What if in the defenseless body of an AIDS-TB patient, a new virus should emerge? After having acquired from the TB bacteria, an (as yet unidentified) "air-transmission" gene, the new HIV virus can infect new victims via public air rather than private body-fluids?
At this moment, airborne AIDS virus is only a figment of the imagination. But non-airborne AIDS virus is real. So is airborne multidrug-resistant TB. It behooves us to bear in mind that just because the human species has survived so far, it is no warranty that it will survive in the future. The magnificent American chestnut trees, which once stood tall and dense from Maine all the way down to Florida, had survived even longer. Yet on contact with an old-world fungus, the American chestnut tree soon became history. Thus one cannot dismiss lightly what William A. Haseltine--- chief retro-virologist at Harvard's Dana-Farber Cancer Institute--- warned in 1993: "Unless the epidemic of AIDS is controlled, there is no predictable future for our species."
At a daunting moment like this, one should not forget that mankind in general, and modern Americans in particular, have again and again risen to new challenges and achieved the proverbially impossible. After all, who could ever believe that human beings would one day land on the Moon? But we did. Then think about the meteor-like rise of the computer science-technology---a stunning forward leap which inspires a vision of boundless human intelligence and resourcefulness. Why then have we become so impotent when it comes to controlling cancer and killer microbes? We cannot be superbly brilliant at one moment and instantly stupid in another.
Could it be possible that we as a species are just not smart enough to cope with the microbes, ceaselessly mutating and becoming stronger with each passing day?
In my opinion, the real cause for the (so far) unsuccessful wars on the fatal diseases in question is not limited human intelligence. Rather, it is a flaw of a different kind. The critical importance of an inviolable principle which governs how science produces practical products---like curing cancer and AIDS---has been overlooked, pooh-poohed and/or suppressed. One easy way to understand this principle and its inviolability is with a thought experiment.
Suppose, with a time machine, we sent to Queen Victoria of England (1819-1901) a transistor radio. The Queen fell in love with this magic little box and the sublime music it transmitted evening after evening. Then an accident happened. The transistor radio broke. And sublime music came no more. The Queen vowed to have the radio repaired regardless of cost. Soon the world's greatest physicists and instrument-makers gathered at her court.
The transistor radio is an electronic machine. At the time Queen Victoria broke her radio, electrons were not yet discovered. Clearly, there was no way to fix the faulty operation of something when no one knew that that something existed. Thus we can say without hesitancy that Queen Victoria with the backing of her legions of talented helpers and the wealth of the mighty British Empire, could not fix that radio. Some 100 years later, the same broken radio could be repaired with a minimum of effort and expense. Not only that particular broken radio can be fixed; any broken radio can be fixed with a minimum of effort and expense.
What magical event had taken place during those 100 and odd years? That event, magical indeed, was the West's achieving, for the first time in history, an in-depth understanding of the underlying science of physics (or more specifically, the physics of electricity, magnetism and electromagnetic waves). Additional accomplishments of inventors and engineers, made possible by the understanding of basic physics, led to the invention (and full understanding) of the transistor radio. The thought-experiment of Queen Victoria's transistor radio has demonstrated the inviolable principle mentioned above: the invention of a useful product can only follow the understanding of the relevant underlying science. For convenience I shall call this principle the principle of sequential inventions.
In my view, we cannot cure cancer or AIDS now (in the true sense of the word), for a similar reason as to why Queen Victoria could not repair her transistor radio: the correct in-depth understanding of the relevant underlying science was/is wanting. The basic science underlying the functional activity of transistor radios is physics. Since living cells are the fundamental units of all life, the basic science underlying human health and disease is the science explaining how living cells function. This basic science is cell physiology.
Philosophers from ancient times have understood that knowledge comprises two major domains: physics describing the dead world; physiology the living. The in-depth understanding of physics has given us the splendid physical world we enjoy today. In contrast and for reasons to be made clear below, understanding of cell physiology---the foundation of all physiology--- has barely begun. Nonetheless, it is my belief that one day cell physiology would lead us to the curing of cancer, AIDS and other rewards beyond our wildest dreams--- but only if it is treated with honor, love and unwavering integrity. In this, Science is like the Chinese Emperor's nightingale, who would sing her heart out for him, but only when the Emperor deserved it.
Alerted to the critical importance of cell physiology in medical research, a reader may ask: "If the ignorance of cell physiology had doomed our wars on cancer and AIDS, then how did we succeed in improving the general human health so well that there was an increase of the life expectancy in the US from 54.1 years for those born in 1920 to what now stands at nearly 76 years?" Improved sanitation, balanced diet, better working conditions, early diagnosis, aseptic surgery, hormonal therapy, good dentistry etc., etc. all contributed to the general improvement in human health and longevity. These health-enhancing measures originated from the beginner-level and/or even journeyman-level understanding of microbial infection, gross anatomy, organ physiology, biochemistry etc.---much as the beginner-level recognition of the electrical nature of thunder and lightening generated the lightening rod. For the remarkable increase in longevity from 1920 on, however, vaccination and wonder drugs played major roles. Like the other health-promoting measures just mentioned, vaccination and wonder drugs also did not come by the same way broken transistor radios are fixed today, i.e., from understanding of the underlying basic science at a highly advanced level in accordance with the principle of sequential inventions.
In the 10th century, an anonymous Taoist monk (or nun) invented vaccination against smallpox ("Chung-doe" in Chinese). In time, this empirical method spread to the Mideast and then to the West. William Jenner, Louis Pasteur and other great western scientists then improved and extended the "Chung-doe" method to control other infectious diseases, which used to kill many, especially young children. We also had good luck in chance-discovering, in modifying chance-discoveries, and in large-scale trial-and-error operations (all without in-depth understanding), an arsenal of wonder drugs, including those we use to combat TB and AIDS today.
Great as they had been, these old routes of progress alone are no longer adequate. Viruses like HIV have learnt to destroy our immune system. Without an intact immune system, vaccination is very difficult, if not impossible. Again and again, microbes have overcome our wonder drugs, administered singly or in combinations. And the cost of developing still more new drugs by the exceedingly inefficient empirical methods has risen so steeply that their practical value in combating diseases have fallen steadily and will fall still more. The price-tag of $15,000 - $150,000 per patient per year for sustaining a single AIDS patient signals this brutal reality.
Since we cannot rely solely on the empirical methods and methods based on beginner-level and/or journeyman-level understanding, there remains one and only one alternative: we must achieve an advanced level of correct and in-depth understanding of cell physiology to fight against the suffering, the deaths, and the uncertain future of our species.
You may interject: " I cannot understand why there is no cell physiology to guide our War on Caner and AIDS. I am sure that researchers learn cell physiology in their student days."
Yes, cell physiology is taught in a standard medical curriculum. But that cell physiology taught is not a science, it is only a theory, called the membrane-pump theory. A theory, of course, is just an idea which may explain a natural phenomenon and it may not. To achieve the status of science, the theory must be extensively tested and proven valid. It is here that the problem lies. The membrane-pump theory has not passed those tests.
The membrane-pump theory took root, unfortunately but perhaps inevitably, from an old misconception that living cells are water solutions enclosed in thin covering cell-membranes. In the mid-19th century, this cell membrane was postulated to possess life-giving powers, a part of which eventually metamorphosed into the (hypothetical) membrane pumps. Truly incisive tests for this membrane-pump theory remained beyond reach for a long, long time. (Meanwhile the unproven theory--- taught more often as truth than not--- was sinking deeper and deeper roots in the bio-medical legacy.) One reason for this delay is that the technology required for decisive testing (e.g., radioisotopes and tools for their assay ) had not yet been developed.
However, once the needed technology became available, the membrane-pump theory was put to rigorous experimental testings between 1950 and 1980 on at least three separate occasions. Each time an independent and different approach was taken, and each time the membrane-pump theory was unequivocally disproved. In the ensuing years to this day, no one has challenged in print the conclusion reached that the membrane-pump theory has no validity. (There was one exception. An unpublished but much publicized challenge by my one-time graduate students, A and B, has been shown to be entirely without merit.) A theory so thoroughlydisproved like the membrane pump theory should have been discarded long ago but it was not.
One result of this foot-dragging is that the Wars on cancer, AIDS and other deadly disease have not been guided by a correct cell physiology. Worse, they have been misguided by a wrong one. The reader can figure out for himself/herself the horrendous cost which must be paid for this foot-dragging, recalling that on an average day, one thousand and five hundred men, women and children die from cancer in America alone.
"Why is the membrane-pump theory still retained after it has been proven wrong? Are there no alternative theories?" The answer is: "Yes. There are alternative theories."
The most complete and up-to-date alternative theory of cell physiology is called the association-induction hypothesis (AI Hypothesis for short) which I introduced in 1962. The association-induction hypothesis is the first and only unifying theory of cell physiology in existence.
In my search for a better understanding of cell physiology I have enjoyed certain special privileges denied most if not all of my predecessors and even contemporaries, who held ideas different from and yet bearing varying degree of resemblance to one or another part of the association-induction hypothesis: the maturation of the underlying sciences of physics and chemistry as well as polymer technology when I arrived on the scene; an uninterrupted full-time research career with the necessary facilities and help for well over forty years ( for which I am deeply indebted to American taxpayers as well as corporate and private funds which have supported or still are supporting our work).
The association-induction hypothesis deals with all major aspects of cell functions in a coherent manner; nothing like this has existed before (or since). Among these cell functions is how, in general terms, drugs produce their physiological effects. ( I shall return to this subject below.) On the one hand, the association-induction hypothesis (AI Hypothesis) and its many predictions have been exhaustively tested in the course of more than three decades since its publication, and consistently confirmed in laboratories across the world. On the other hand, all published challenges have been answered and shown without exception not to refute but to affirm and further strengthen the AI Hypothesis.
In addition to the 200-odd original scientific papers and reviews in which full scientific details were given, the association-induction hypothesis (AI Hypothesis), its historical background, its supportive evidence as well as the once-seemingly-contradictory-but-now-also-supportive evidence have also been published in three full-length books: "A Physical Theory of the Living State: the Association-induction Hypothesis", 1962; "In Search of the Physical Basis of Life", 1984; "A Revolution in the Physiology of the Living Cell", 1992. It is in the last volume that you can find the most complete details of the disproof of the membrane-pump theory and the establishment of all major aspects of the AI Hypothesis. Having presented a succinct sketch of the AI Hypothesis, we now ask: What does it hold out for the future?
Implicit in the principle of sequential invention is that the understanding of a complicated basic science does not happen all at once. Rather, like a tree, basic scientific knowledge grows in reach and in depth with time. Each time the understanding of a basic science grows deeper and farther-reaching, more sophisticated useful products may become feasible and be created. Thus as soon as Benjamin Franklin correctly announced his theory that thunder and lightening are electric in nature, he invented the lightening rod. As soon as Franklin found that electricity travels at phenomenal speed along a copper wire and Michael Faraday discovered the principle of electromagnetic attraction, Samuel Morse invented telegraphy. And as soon as Rudolph Hertz confirmed James Clerk Maxwell's theory of electromagnetic waves, Marconi invented the wireless telegraphy (which is one form of radio). And this leap-frogging of more and more sophisticated understanding and more and more sophisticated applications continued until the transistor radio was invented.
The lightening rod is simple; the transistor radio is complex. However, the pinnacle of complex machinery is certainly the human being and the individual cells making up the human being. Thus a total and lasting cure of cancer, AIDS and other deadly diseases will not come until the knowledge of cell physiology has reached a high state of maturity.
It is important to remember at all times that there is one and only one set of truth. And a truth once discovered cannot be discovered a second time. The coherent basic concepts introduced in the association-induction hypothesis (or AI Hypothesis) has been firmly established, and the rules governing the major cell physiological functions have already been reduced to rigorous equation forms. Until new findings indicating the need of minor or even more than minor revision---though none has been found for well over three decades--- these basic concepts will remain the foundation of, and the one and only road to the much more advanced and sophisticated cell physiology in time to come. It is self-evident then,--- if only to give hope to those 1500 who will die daily in America alone---we must make every humanly-possible effort to expedite the free and uninterrupted further development of the AI Hypothesis.
One may then ask: "If given all that are needed, how soon would it take legitimate cell physiology founded on the AI Hypothesis, to reach the depth and sophistication, that it can begin to make real inroads into the ultimate conquest of cancer, AIDS and other incurable diseases?"
Of course, none can answer with certainty. It depends on how the rest of the world responds to this unprecedented challenge. It might reach maturity in an incredibly short period of time. Or it may take much longer. Or it may never (see below). One should keep in mind that, if given a chance, our advanced knowledge of physics, chemistry (as well as technology) in general and computer science (and computer technology) in particular could speed up the progress of cell physiology as never before. However, even if it should take many long years to reach the needed high-level maturity; there would be almost certainly a stream of mankind-benefiting useful products created on the way--- much as there had been in the case of physics starting from time long past; and in the case of the AI Hypothesis, starting in time more recent (see the last section).
What should we do now to help ourselves and everybody else from unnecessary suffering and premature death? The answer is clear and simple: "Replace the thoroughly disproved membrane-pump theory with the AI Hypothesis." We will not get an instant cure for cancer, AIDS and other incurable diseases. But we will be on the way-----. Now the bad news.
The harsh reality is: nothing like this has happened. Nor is it likely to happen soon. The same old disproved membrane pump theory keeps its strangle-hold on virtually all biomedical research. Worse, it is still being taught to this day (falsely and exclusively) as proven truth at all levels of education. You may respond to this un-ending nightmare in horror: "Why should efforts to comfort and save people from suffering and premature death be willfully blocked? Who are these satanic creatures? How can they get away with it?" The answer is as old as mankind. In the words of the Italian statesman, Nicolo Machiavelli (1469-1527), it reads as follows:
"It must be remembered that nothing is more difficult to plan, and more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to manage than the creation of a new system. For the initiator has the enmity of all who would profit from the preservation of the old institution and merely lukewarm defenders of those who would gain by the new ones."("The Prince")
History shows that in introducing new ideas to replace erroneous old ones, few escaped the wrath of powerful peers, who preferred to keep things the way they were. For supporting Copernicus' revolutionary heliocentric theory of astronomy, Bruno was pronounced a heretic and burnt at the stake in 1600; Galileo, already blind, imprisoned for life even after he had recanted his belief in 1633 to avoid torture. Semmelweis introduced the first successful prophylactic agent (chlorine water) against lethal bacteria, saving the lives of many young mothers and their babies. His success enraged powerful physicians holding the old idea that childbed fever is caused by atmospheric-cosmic-terrestrial changes. Denied a renewal of his appointment and shunned by even friends, Semmelweis became severely depressed . He died in an insane asylum at the age of 47. Some believe that he was in fact beaten to death while trying to escape.
When a lone individual is pitted against legions of powerful peers, who see the foundation of their prestige and profits threatened, the odds are so hopelessly against the individual, one wonders how valid new ideas ever replaced wrong ones. History shows, however, that such replacement happened and it happened repeatedly in Western Europe between late 18th and the early 20th century. What then made Western Europe in the late 18 to early 20th century so special?
As if in response to a plea from the future, three great scientists each from a different country and a different field of science told us the secret how their respective new theory successfully replaced the old wrong one. French chemist Antoine Lavoisier (1743-1794), English biologist Charles Darwin (1804-1882) and German physicist Max Planck (1858-1947) has each left us an almost identical message. As usual, their new (and verified) scientific theories were rejected by the majority of their contemporary peers. Nonetheless, each witnessed his new theory replacing the erroneous old one, not only because they themselves could continue their work---as Bruno, Galileo and Semmelweis could not--- but because a younger generation of scientists could and did adopt the new theory without prejudice, and thus made possible the continuation of the cooperative enterprise across time and space which we call Science. In a nutshell, the secret of their successful revolutions lay in the new socio-economic environment which shielded the revolutionary scientists and their young followers from hostile peers.
In the wake of the Enlightenment movement, belief in reason and intellectual freedom flourished. Prosperous and independent European states were constantly at war and competed against one another in ( among other enterprises) their sponsorship of science. New universities and research institutions were founded by the enlightened monarchs, providing abundant niches for scientists regardless of what scientific theories they believed in.
Other contributing factors to the effective shielding of revolutionary scientists and their young followers included the low cost of living and of research, and even more important, the small number of competing scientists. Living in an intellectual "village" small enough to be easily within reach of one another, they shared a perception of the highest nobility in searching for pure scientific truth. And they pursued it with passion and integrity.
Having read this and yet aware of the continuing stranglehold of the wrong theory of cell physiology, the reader asks: "Have we forgotten the lesson history has taught us?" In hind sight, one may say that that was the case (see below). But in addition, something new has entered the scene: money. Or more correctly, Big Money.
Like the genie out of a bottle, Big Money may answer the wishes of rapid scientific progress to the benefit of mankind. Or the genie may become the master rather than the slave and derail the true objective of the enterprise: truth-seeking. Much would depend on those who set the rules defining the relation between truth-seeking and money-dispensing.
Exhilarated by the great contributions science had made in winning the Second World War, the US launched in the 1940's an unprecedented large-scale government funding of scientific research. The idea itself was terrific, offering the vision of ever-expanding frontiers of knowledge and of a better and safer world which new knowledge would continue to bring. Unfortunately, the extremely difficult task of setting up the basic operating rules for managing the enterprise which really called for the genius and wisdom of the likes of Franklin and Jefferson, fell on the shoulders of those more modest in natural endowments and in knowledge on the history of science. As a result, the government-sponsored research institutions came into being too big and too sudden--- and almost instantly beyond reform.
The rule-makers seemed unaware of the fact that one domain of basic science (physics) is already mature, and thus able to produce more useful applications; while the other domain of basic science (cell physiology) is still in its infancy, and not able yet to provide the foundation for curing cancer and other equally difficult assignments.
The rule-makers put too much emphasis on distributing the Federal largesse in an impartial and democratic manner (which is commendable for, say, building a rocket or even a space station where, the underlying basic knowledge is on hand); and not enough in selecting the best qualified and giving them full scientific freedom and uninterrupted support so that they would have a chance of accomplishing the important and immensely difficult task lying ahead (which is vital in promoting the rapid progress of the immature basic science of cell physiology).
The rule-makers seemed unaware that periods of smooth progress in basic science --- especially immature basic science--- is very often disrupted by upheavals in which long-cherished ideas are replaced wholesale by a set of totally new ones, in a process called scientific revolution. Instead, the rule-makers apparently acted on the belief (then in vogue but fallacious) that all sciences progress only by smooth and steady accumulation of knowledge, with the equally fallacious deduction that at any time a majority of specialists in the field (or peers) knows where truth lies and how to get there and find it.
The rule-makers naively (or not-so-naively) assumed that all scientists are so far above common human weaknesses that to institute any mechanism to monitor and correct untoward behaviors would be too insulting to the scientists. Therefore, none was installed.
Apparently based on these faulted perceptions, administrative rules were set up for allocating public funds. One key set of rules adopted is called the peer review system.
In this peer review system, the favorable opinion of the majority ( in reality maybe only two or three) of a panel of experts or peers, decides who gets the funds for research and who doesn't. In time, similar peer review systems were adopted in many other decision-making processes in science. Approval by the majority of (often the same) peers then decides not only whether or not a scientist gets a research grant, but also whether or not a scientist gets a scientific paper published, a job, a promotion and even a Nobel prize. The necessary ingredients for a return to the pre-18th century environment of Mediterranean science were all in the pot.
For who are these peers sitting on the all-powerful peer-review panels? They are no other than the very same people who, as Machiavelli pointed out, stand to lose if the old system is not preserved. It was the genius of the post-Enlightenment Western Europe that had averted the natural inclination of peers to block progress. The introduction of a pervasive peer review system threatened to nullify all that in one stroke.
The pervasive peer review system now provides these peers with both the organization and the unbridled power to fulfill their all-too-human unwillingness to let go of the old ideas on which they have been brought up and by which they have been earning their income and prestige all their lives. So absolute is the power given to the peers that if they should choose, for example, to use public money to reward those who share their own likes and dislikes and to penalize those holding contrary views, neither the funding agencies nor the victims can stop it.
For indisputable evidence of the absolute power wielded by peers over public money, all one needs is to read the publicly-distributed pamphlet from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) ---the largest government funding conglomerate--- advising those seeking financial support for their research: "the author of a project proposal must learn all he can about those who will read his proposal and keep those readers constantly in mind as he writes". In other words, if you want a piece of the taxpayers' money for your research, you must find out who are the peers reading your proposal, what are these readers' (i.e., peers') likes and dislikes. And propose research that would please the reader-peers and avoid anything that might displease them.
Its innocent beginning notwithstanding, the warp and woof of the peer review system have woven a seamless overarching net, in which virtually all biomedical scientists are corralled and in which the key to success is to avoid opposing and challenging what the majority says and does.
Oversupply of scientists, the rising cost of living and of research, the decline of private foundations and scientific niches which these foundations once sustained, completed the dismantling of the socio-economic environment which once protected revolutionary scientists and their young followers--- as the following unfolding story will substantiate
Government-funded research, despite all the criticisms, have produced and is still producing a vast amount of valid knowledge in wide areas. Some progress made is extremely important as illustrated by that in genetics and molecular biology of DNA. The trouble lies in correcting major past errors and in supporting new concepts which would unify all the fragmented pieces of valid understanding into a coherent system of knowledge (and eliminate others). And without this unification, the (fragmented) research as a whole will become stalled sooner or later. However, at the beginning of public funding , everything went well even for "dissenters" like myself.
Thus rapid progress was made in the fifties and early sixties in developing and testing the association-induction hypothesis (or AI Hypothesis). A good-sized group of bright young science students flocked to my laboratory to work toward a higher degree or otherwise participate in the exciting research. I lectured all over the world and often received the honor of standing ovations.
In 1957 the Soviet scientist, A.S.Troshin, another anti-membrane-pump cell physiologist and Director of the huge Leningrad Institute of Cytology, visited me and others at the Department of Basic Research of the Eastern Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute (EPPI) in Philadelphia. Troshin lavishly praised the variety and number of scientific-research-supporting institutions in the US--- in contrast to the one and only in Moscow. I could not have dreamed then that one day the sources of basic biomedical research funding in the US would fall to the level we witness today. Troshin's visit also marked the approaching end of the carefree era of my scientific career. Pressure was building up here and there against my science. In 1960, I and four other senior scientists (of a total of seven) left EPPI. Good luck brought me into contact with the brilliant, and research-oriented neurologist , Dr. Frank Elliot and before long Pennsylvania Hospital, the Nation's oldest, became the new home and sanctuary for the association-induction hypothesis.
In 1966 Dr. Richard Keynes---Professor in Physiology of the Cambridge University of England and a pupil and coauthor of Sir Alan Hodgkin, Nobel Laureate, of the Physiological Laboratory of the Cambridge University--- announced publicly (in a lecture and in print) that "Ling is responsible for a major heresy in this field".
Why should heresy, a word which had once legitimized the destruction of so many, be applied to me? Does Professor Keynes believe that since the Physiology Laboratory of the Cambridge University in England has become, so to speak, the "Mecca" of cell physiology, anyone who holds a different scientific view from Professor Keynes commits heresy?
Dr. Paul Horowicz is another cell physiologist who had also studied under Sir Alan Hodgkin. Drs. Horowicz and Hodgkin had once coauthored a paper which I had criticized on purely scientific grounds in a paper I wrote. From then on, Horowicz' name and work had gradually faded from my mind. That is, until I was told in 1973 that under his Chairmanship, the Physiology Study Section of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommended not only that my specific proposal submitted to NIH for renewal funding be refused (which was within their prerogative) but that NIH should stop funding my future work altogether (which was beyond their prerogative and thus illegal). None of the criticisms offered to justify this harsh recommendation has significance or validity. Some reasons cited for discontinuing future support were so absurd and stupid that I had trouble deciding to burst out laughing or cry.
It was only through the intervention of Dr. Thomas Malone, the then Deputy NIH Director, and Dr. Stephen Schiaffino, Associate Director of the Division of Research Grants who having read my point-by-pint rebuttal of the Study Section's critique, recommended that an ad hoc "Special Study Sections" (SSS)---staffed by knowledgeable scientists but without conflicting interests,--- was convened (from time to time) to review my proposal that made it possible for my work to continue.
While my own research was to be kept alive by the ad hoc SSS's, no SSS was even considered for other scientists seeking support for work based on, or just further testing the AI Hypothesis. Meanwhile, the regular Physiology Study Section of NIH continued to support generously membrane-pump-theory-based projects, while relentlessly denying it to all pursuing the AI Hypothesis. This situation left little alternative for a young scientist--- trained in this area of research and in need of earning a living--- but reject the AI Hypothesis and embrace the membrane-pump theory (even when he/she knows that this action is dishonest, and that it betrays and injures Science and everything else, which depends on a healthy and robust Science).
Aware of all the terrifying power of coercion, I was nonetheless deeply shaken when (virtually) all my graduate and postdoctoral students suddenly left en masse. However, I was consoled by the fact that two young scientists also closely associated with me and the AI Hypothesis, Ludwig Edelmann (of West Germany) and (the late) William Negendank (from Tennessee) refused to give in. Other independent-minded investigators including Drs. Carlton Hazlewood, Freeman Cope, Raymond Damadian, George Karreman and others also stood their grounds, often paying the price of great personal hardship. On October 10, 1982, Freeman Cope, then at the height of his scientific creativity, took his own life.
Perhaps it was to offset the impact of their earlier published work confirming and extending the AI Hypothesis, and to convince others that they left my laboratory for purely scientific reasons, each departing student from my laboratory soon published a paper, a short note, or merely circulated some unpublished pamphlets, all aimed at throwing doubts on the AI Hypothesis and at rehabilitating, and even glorifying the membrane pump theory. In response, I and my coworkers in time published new work again and again establishing unequivocally that all these alleged scientific reasons for rejecting the AI Hypothesis were either simply wrong or have some merit but only in eliciting our further studies, which revealed in yet newer ways, the falsity of the membrane-pump theory and the rock-solid soundness of the AI Hypothesis.
Dr. Gina Kolata, a young and apparently still inexperienced reporter for the widely read Science magazine, "sanctified" the false claim by announcing "crucial calculations and experiments" for the Sodium Pump--- which were in fact either totally wrong or simply non-existent.
In an age of information deluge, scientific publications called "reviews" provide up-to-date knowledge in special fields. Reviews are as a rule sound and trustworthy. In 1975, Drs. I. M. Glynn and S.J. D. Karlish also from the Physiological Laboratory of the Cambridge University, England, published a review on "The Sodium Pump". This review is extraordinary as Professor J. Catchpole of the University of Illinois pointed out: "The first comprehensive review which mentioned the sodium pump in its title was that of Glynn and Karlish. Glynn and Karlish listed 245 articles in support of the sodium pump and none opposed. Yet Ling's idea had been around for 25 years; so had ours; so had Troshin's...".
In fact, not just ideas were dismissed. Documents after documents of experimental evidence against the sodium pump hypothesis were also made to look as if they had never existed. So were the identity of those scientists who had made these critical contributions.
Willfully citing only positive evidence for a theory and leaving out negative evidence is a well-known scientific fraud, called cooking. It is usually done surreptitiously by small-time offenders. "Cooking " openly from the "Mecca" of cell physiology to "erase" existing knowledge and to "excommunicate" scientific opponents is unknown in scientific history. To put this in perspective, I cite English writer, C.P. Snow from his book, "The Search" (Scribner, 1959):
"The only ethical principle which has made science possible is that the truth shall be told all the time....And of course a false statement of fact, made deliberately, is the most serious crime a scientist can commit".
(This passage on the basic code of behavior for a scientist was also cited verbatim in "Honor in Science" published by Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society, New Haven, 1986.)
Why did these highly-privileged scientists deliberately and openly bring disgrace to a noble profession? What had prevented them from citing all relevant evidence and gotten on with the respected career of a truth-seeker, rather than joining the rank of the lowest stratum of the society? Could they also believe that if they had told the whole truth, they would also lose their jobs and not be able to get new ones, presumably under the same devastating fear which not long ago had coerced the flight of my former graduate students? Hard as it is to condone what they have done, personally one cannot but feel an overwhelming sadness for them all. Once undoubtedly filled with high hopes, they ended up not seeking truth but "cooking" it. I also have little doubt that if they had any hope of fulfilling what they once set out to do, they would have acted altogether differently.
Were there punitive measures taken against the offenders or at least to set the record straight? None whatsoever, beyond the protests of Ling and Negendank, and of Catchpole. On the contrary, others saw a green light. Following Glynn and Karlish's examples, they produced their own "cooked" reviews, one after another. Key NIH officials, when informed, did nothing (see below). And worse--.
After the nightmare of deserting students had receded into the background, my own research continued for another productive span of some fifteen years during which, my second book, "In Search of the Physical Basis of Life" was published, bringing up to date and expanding, for example, the chapters on DNA control of protein synthesis and on Cancer. As partly mentioned above, my work would have been stopped long before, were it not for the courage and support of Dr. Steve Schiaffino, Associate Director of the Division of Research Grant of NIH and of Dr. Arthur Callahan, Program Director of the Office of Naval Research (ONR). To both, I owe a debt of gratitude for their fearlessness in translating their beliefs into action.
Then both Drs. Callahan and Schiaffino retired. Almost immediately, the new Director of Research Grant at NIH, Dr. Jerome Green, went about the business of abolishing the (genuine) Special Study Section which had kept my work going for the preceding 15 years. Thus the panel of scientific advisors assembled by Dr. Green (and his subordinates) to review my (last) grant proposals, though still called a Special Study Section, now included my worst scientific opponents---a fact I strongly and repeatedly protested to no effect. Yet these scientific advisors chosen by Dr. Green (and his subordinates) had never in their entire scientific careers, published a single paper, or otherwise publicly challenged the validity of my scientific disproof of the membrane-pump theory or my establishing the AI Hypothesis. In October 1988, while at the height of its productivity, my laboratory at the Pennsylvania Hospital for the last 27 years was forcibly closed by the simultaneous withdrawal of all NIH (and ONR) funds.
On hearing of what had happened, Dr. Raymond Damadian, then already the President of the Fonar Corporation ---whose own revolutionary scientific work I shall mention on the last page--- dispatched seven trucks to Philadelphia to pick up my laboratory possessions (even though they were mostly old and not to be set up again) and transported them to his company in Melville on Long Island, New York. Hence forth, Fonar Corporation has kept the AI Hypothesis alive and growing, by providing space, facilities, a congenial and intellectual environment, but above all, salaries for myself and two close associates (Dr. Zhen-dong Chen who joined us in 1987; and Margaret Ochsenfeld, who had worked with me for thirty years).
Soon, it had begun to look like a miniature Bell Laboratory---now unofficially taking on the name of Damadian Foundation for Basic and Cancer Research (dobar, for short)--- with full freedom to pursue subjects we feel are at once important and feasible, and which, nonetheless, in many ways dovetail with the long-range objectives of our host company (see concluding section). For preserving our scientific work and what it may portend for the future, my gratitude to Raymond Damadian and his Fonar Corporation knows no bonds.
Nevertheless, there is a limit to what Fonar can do in its unprecedented heroic and generous effort to keep its little Bell Laboratory going. After all, Fonar is still a very young and small company, competing against powerful industrial giants like General Electric, Siemens, Hitachi, to name just a few. To survive, Fonar has no other choice but to plow every spare dollar back to ensure its own (including our) immediate survival and long-range growth. Therefore, to continue our research, I have to buy frogs and small amounts of chemicals and supplies with money sometimes out of my own pocket and at other times from whatever little bits of money on which I could honorably lay my hands. In the meantime, Margaret Ochsenfeld and I have also been managing and publishing the scientific journal, Physiological Chemistry Physics and Medical NMR (formerly Physiological Chemistry and Physics), which is in its 28th year of publication and which has been our only dependable means of scientific communication throughout all these years. In 1992, the fourth year after our arrival on Long Island, my third book, "A Revolution in the Physiology of the Living Cell" appeared in print.
Around this time, a medical friend asked me: "If the membrane pump theory is as thoroughly disproved and its adherents are undermining the integrity of Science and the future of humanity as you claim, how come two Nobel Prizes--- the highest honor given for scientific achievements---- were awarded as late as 1991 for work done on the subject?" Eyebrow-raising though it is, the question itself is only half true. Only one Nobel Prize was given for work on the postulated membrane pump, the other was awarded for work on the "sodium channel" , an altogether different postulation of the proponents of the membrane pump theory. For one unfamiliar with the field like my medical friend, he/she may mistake "sodium channel" for an alias of the "sodium pump". However, there are also abundant evidence that the "sodium channel" concept is also basically incorrect, both on its own account and as a part of the untenable membrane-pump theory. But a specific concept in the currently popular version of the sodium channel has validity. That part was stolen from the AI Hypothesis without due acknowledgment (and stay uncorrected by the offender even after my repeated protests).
A Nobel Prize for Chemistry was awarded in 1978 to English scientist, Peter Mitchell for his "Chemiosmotic Hypothesis". To award a Nobel Prize for an (as-yet-unproven) hypothesis is unheard of. To the best of my knowledge and barring this one, no Noble Prizes has ever been given to authors of hypotheses before they had been proven valid beyond question. The Chemiosmotic Hypothesis was intended to provide a mechanism for the postulated membrane pumps. But Mitchell seemed totally ignorant of the vast amount of experimental evidence against the very existence of such membrane pumps. To what extent he was a victim of Glynn and Karlish's "cooked" review and other "cooked" reviews like it-in which all evidence against the most prominent (sodium) pump was completely left out--- I have no way of knowing. Not surprisingly, the Chemiosmotic theory soon became the target of one disproof after another. But for the reputation and credibility of the Nobel Prize as well as Peter Mitchell, these disproofs came too late. The Prize had already been awarded.
In 1981, I published an article bearing the title: "Oxidative Phosphorylation and Mitochondrial Physiology: A Critical Review of Chemiosmotic Theory, and Reinterpretation by the Association-Induction Hypothesis". In this article I showed that the data cited in support of the Chemiosmotic Hypothesis as well as those contradicting it, both fit the predictions of the AI Hypothesis like hand in glove. Welsh biochemist, Professor Douglas Kell congratulated me on my article in these words: " tour de force and really magnificent ...my congratulations on a masterpiece." Others as usual just ignored it. Even sadder, Professor Kell too retreated later from his initial position without giving a reason. But it is not hard to imagine one.
A Nobel Prize for Physiology was awarded in 1991 to two German scientists, E. Neher and B. Sakmann for their (alleged) demonstration of the opening and closing of (the postulated) single sodium channels in the cell membrane with what is called the "Patch-clamp Technique". This award turned out just as badly for the Nobel Prize. The key observation supposedly demonstrating the phenomenon in a set-up holding a patch of cell membrane has been shown by three independent groups of investigators to be--- can you believe it?--- an artifact. One can observe the same phenomenon down to the details in a similar setup without the cell membrane (Woodbury, 1989; Lev et al, 1993; Sachs and Qin 1993).
After publicly rejecting the AI Hypothesis, and spreading misbegotten rumor about my work on the sodium pump, my former graduate student, A was to win the rich and coveted support of the Howard Hughes Foundation for Medical Research and in time became a highly popular figure, lecturing to over-flowing halls all over the place. One part of A's writing was extending the work on reconstituted cells (the key observation of which turned out to be also an artifact). Another part was founded on work employing essentially the same "patch-clamp technique" which won for Neher and Sakmann the Nobel Prize of 1991. A (valid) part of A's work was an extension of the key concept earlier stolen from the AI Hypothesis as mentioned above. A who knew perfectly well the truth, did not make any public protest but joined the others in not citing my much earlier original publications on the subject.
It is excruciatingly painful to witness the West's magnificent contribution to human civilization dragged in mud by some of the highly respected members of the scientific community. Though on a much smaller scale, it is no less excruciating to witness at close focus and with haunting clarity what a bad system had inflicted upon the once innocent and good. To think that this is the same gentle, wistful and intelligent A, who only a little while ago was indignantly striking back at scientific dishonesty--- as in the distortions and dismissal of Ling's work by University of Pennsylvania's Professor X. When pressed by A, Professor X broke down and confessed why he could not tell the truth: he had to protect his job and his family. A never told me why he did what he did. Instead he seemed to have assumed the character of the less-candid version of Professor X himself, down to the detail of dismissing Ling as a member of a "vocal minority" . ( As of September 28, 1997 I thought I had covered all there was on Nobel Award for the disproved membrane pump hypothesis. I was proven wrong within less than a month.)
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences had just announced that the 1997 Nobel Award for Chemistry goes to Paul Boyer from the US, John Walker from Cambridge, England and Jens Skou from Denmark. Half of the $ 1 million award goes to Skou " for his discovery of an ion-transporting enzyme that works with ATP to control the flow of sodium and potassium into cells." Thus from Stockholm came galloping both money and fame to rescue the thoroughly disproved sodium pump hypothesis---again.
Why do people selecting Nobel Prize Awardee make a habit of engaging in such foolishness? Don't some people in Stockholm know that the modern library places at one's fingertip all published scientific work on any scientific subject? Or are they so exalted in self-esteem that they believe going to the library to be beneath their high calling and thus become the willing slaves of those opinion-making review writers like Glynn and Karlish?---- who started the fraudulent traditon of writing reviews on the sodium pump hypothesis with all negative evidence withheld? If the Nobel prize can no longer distinguish between what is an established truth and what is a disproved hypothesis, what is the Nobel Prize really promoting then?
So fertile and prolific is cell physiological research that as soon as we settled down at our new Long Island home, we resumed our march forward slowly but steadily in two major directions: one concerns how water in cancer cells differs from water in normal living cells---a subject relevant to cancer detection (see last page) and in-depth understanding of cancer and its ultimate cure; the other deals with the basic general mechanism of how drugs control cell functions.
To understand the potential importance of our work on drug action at the most fundamental level, one must first recognize that a most powerful weapon---indeed, one may argue the most important weapon--- with which we will one day vanquish cancer and predatory microbes is custom-designed drugs based on full understanding. One must then recognize the abysmally primitive status of our current knowledge on basic drug action. To drive home this point, I cite an independent authority. From his monumental treatise, "Medicinal Chemistry" in which the chemistry and uses of thousands of drugs were described in detail, Professor Alfred Burger of the University of Virginia wrote in the Introduction of this treatise in 1960:
"Almost all the problems of medicinal chemistry would become more amenable if we had even an inkling of the reactions of any drug with body chemicals..." ( 2nd ed., p.19, ital. mine)
Expressed differently, this passage tells us that all those thousands of drugs in use, including what I have referred to as Wonder Drugs earlier, are discovered without basic understanding of why they work, why other closely similar chemicals do not work, or work in opposite ways. The situation has not materially changed since 1960 for obvious reasons. The "body chemicals" cited, refer to the relevant constituent parts of the living cell. Obviously only a correct theory of the living cell can provide the foundation for a correct and in depth understanding of that reaction between the drug and the cell components; a wrong theory of the living cell like the membrane pump theory obviously cannot , nor ever will.
One hundred years after Queen Victoria, we now can make transistor radios of all sizes, shapes and different degrees of sophistication. Because we understand precisely how they work, we can not only make them in all kinds of sizes, shapes and degrees of sophistication but cheaply. When we finally understand the living cells at a highly sophisticated level, including precisely how it interacts with drugs, we can design drugs to vanquish diseases without untoward side effects and make them cheaply too. The following excursion tells just how much cheaper.
English historian and novelist, H.G.Wells (1866-1946) once wrote on the power of random chance. He pointed out that a monkey provided with a typewriter, will type out the work of Shakespeare, if enough time is given. The trouble is that it might take a million years to do that. Compare the cost of keeping generations upon generations of monkeys for a million years and the cost of hiring a single skilled and intelligent secretary to type out the same Shakespeare, one can understand why the cost of producing a useful drug by random trial and error, or by design from understanding is beyond measure.
As drugs are currently made by the highly inefficient trial-and-error method, a vast amount of money and efforts are inevitably wasted to produce, if lucky, a single useful drug. It is for this reason that the cost of medical treatments is rapidly becoming a grave national problems even for a fabulously rich nation like the United States.
Consider the price tag of $15,000 to $150,000 per year to maintain an AIDS patient mentioned above. There are from 650,000 to 900,000 HIV-positive patients in the US as of July 1996. Thus it would take from $10 billion to $135 billion each year to take care of all the HIV-positive patients in the US alone. For comparison, the entire annual budget of NIH is only about $20 billion. The total expenditure for our quarter-century-old War on Cancer was $29 billion.
(Understanding drug action will also open the door to deriving valid knowledge from alternative medicines and discarding the invalid. This effort may help saving endangered rhinoceri, tigers, etc.etc. by either creating better substitutes for, or debunking the uselessness of rhinoceros horns, tiger bones and other body parts, now prescribed in Chinese herb medicine.)
Having grasped what the AI Hypothesis in general and our most recent progress in fundamental drug action in particular may mean for the future, a reader asks: "How many other scientists in the US and abroad are engaged in similar work on drug action based on the AI Hypothesis like what you are doing here in Melville?" This question would be very difficult to answer fifty years ago. However, computer science and technology have changed all that.
The Citation Index, a periodical available at many libraries, tallies scientific publications across the world which have appeared in a recent period of time as well as the names of the scientists who have quoted each publication. In a period of time in 1995 which I picked at random, the Citation Index showed that across the whole world, there were only two scientists (with/without coworkers) who had cited (any of ) our work, both recent and past. The one accounting for virtually all these citations is myself (and my coauthor(s)). (The other was a young Hungarian student of microbiology, Thomas Henics---whom we know well.) Thus it seems that Margaret Ochsenfeld, Zen-dong Chen and I are, to all intents and purposes, the only three scientists who are still actively advancing legitimate cell physiology (including drug action) under the guidance of the only verified, unifying theory of cell physiology, the AI Hypothesis.
Science is a living and continuing effort of Mankind to search for broader and deeper understanding of Nature. New knowledge thus gained from day to day may empower our species to cope with unexpected happenings in Nature, already at our doorsteps and yet to come in the future. For this and other reason(s), science is taught to every citizen in the US as well as other developed nations from childhood on. This is a stupendous undertaking. But where are we headed for after universal science education?
As mentioned above, Science falls into two realms: science of the dead world (physics) and science of the living (cell physiology). Physics has long ago reached maturity. In contrast, cell physiology has barely begun and hence, in all probability, has the most to offer for the future. Yet apparently only three are left to actively pursue cell physiology guided by the only unifying and verified theory. That few if any beside ourselves (and young Henics) have even referred to the AI Hypothesis and related work in the randomly picked period of time examined, shows how universal and how deep has been the fear which the membrane-pumpers and their bureaucrat allies have instilled.
Now you may ask: " Have you addressed these serious problems directly to the authorities at NIH and others in a position to do something?" Yes. I did all those and more. I addressed as a rule all seventy-five (75) top NIH officials; and I addressed them repeatedly. In particular I reminded them that survey after survey, including the most extensive one carried out by NIH itself, have all led to the same conclusion: the peer review system was suppressing innovation--- without which there can be no real progress. I also pointed out how the peer review system was corrupting Science and how a few changes in the operating rules---which I described---may yet save the integrity of NIH supported basic cell physiological science. But all to no avail.
In addition, I appealed to NIH top brass to set up a public debate--- with qualified scientists without vested interests invited to serve as referees--- to demonstrate where the truth lies. But those appeals too were turned down. This does not mean that no one cared. Undoubtedly, some did. Thus I may mention Dr. Vincent de Vita, the then Director of the National Cancer Institute, the largest of the NIH Institutes. On receiving one of my long letters to NIH officials, Dr. de Vita wrote back on September 24, 1986. And here is a key comment from his letter:
" ...I want you to know that I agree with almost every word you said about the peer review system...."
Yet despite his rank, he could not transform his feelings into effective action. Dr. de Vita resigned his National Cancer Institute Directorship not long afterward.
I also sent a 25-page letter to each of the following dignitaries: President Jimmy Carter, President Ronald Reagan, all 430 representatives and 100 senators of the 100th Congress, 24 newspapers and magazines, ten prominent newsmen. The responses were not different from what I had received from NIH officials. A few expressed (powerless) concern, some sent me printed form letters on issues of no relation to my letter, but most of them just did not answer. A young congressional aide told me gratuitously over the phone that letters like mine go straight to the wastebasket. I should write one no longer than two paragraphs.
That at long last convinced me that there is no hope for me to bring about major reform in Governmental corruption by writing letters. Everyone in charge is too busy and too preoccupied to pay attention to the extraordinary, on which they lack public support to act anyway.
Since the US government introduced Big Money into the Basic Science, more than half of a century has gone by. A new millennium is right around the corner. Do the government leaders in charge look on Basic Science with confidence and enthusiasm as their predecessors once did? How does big industry--- mostly the product of successful basic science in the past--- see the role of basic science in the industry of tomorrow? The answer, given below, is chilling to say the least. It seems that both the industry and the government have lost the vision for the future.
The October 8, 1996 New York Times reported how more and more US industries are abandoning their traditional interests and investment in basic sciences, preferring now to invest in research producing short-term profits; even AT & T's phenomenal laurel-laden Bell Laboratory--- which counts among its numerous glorious inventions, the history-making transistor--- is also on the chopping block for the same reason.
The government too seems eager to cut back on the support of basic science. Thus the Clinton administrationwas quoted on its plan of "gutting basic research funds beginning in the fiscal year 1998". Earlier, the Republicans have already offered similar plans.
Economic historian Gavin Wright of Stanford University sees US industries "moving toward a more practical Japan or German model". Yet the economic model Wright refers to may no longer fit Japan at least. Since the late 1980's, Japan had undergone a dramatic about-face, so that now Japanese industry in concert with the Japanese government is investing heavily on long-term basic research--- even as Japanese economy has been in deep recession. How well can they succeed, however, depends also on other factors. The educational, and socio-economical environment which nurtures what Albert Einstein called "inner freedom" in the scientists' minds is one.
One obvious reason for cutting back support for basic scientific research by the US Federal government is the skyrocketing cost for social programs including health care. Still it is hard to believe that simultaneously the Pentagon is planning to spend 355 billion dollars ($355,000,000,000)--- that is more than twelve (12) times the entire amount spent on the War on Cancer, $29 billions---just to improve one weapon, i.e., to produce still better fighter jets than the Air Force's F-15, which is famous for being already perfect (26 shoot-downs and no loss in the Persian Gulf war.)
The only defensible argument---which I can understand--- for gutting support for basic science in particular is that basic science has exhausted its power to produce useful products. Failed War on Cancer and AIDS could be cited as evidence. Horgan's recent book, "The End of Science" appears to support this view also. In contrast, I think that it would be cavalier and harmful to proclaim that a science, any science, has reached the limit of its productivity.
The reader of this home page knows by now that the (so far) unsuccessful war on cancer and AIDS is due to an altogether different reason. But neither the general public, the White House nor the Congress know. All they see is that after many long years of support, there is still no cure for cancer or for AIDS. They are fed up. And they don't want to throw more money at it any more.
Thus we are at the end of a full circle. Corruption blocks rapid progress of legitimate basic cell physiology. Corruption also wastes a lot of money, producing nothing. And this twofold failure to produce has created the mistaken belief that basic cell physiology itself is unable to generate useful products like curing cancer and AIDS. This final mistake may become self-fulfilling if both industry and the government continue their minuet of retreat. It is the eleventh hour already. I must get my message through somehow. But to whom?
Not long after my arrival on Long Island, I re-read Rachel Carson's book, "The Silent Spring". By publishing Silent Spring, this single individual did change the world for the better. She reached out to the grassroots average people through her book. Slowly, their understanding paved the way for the broad awareness of the eco system and why we must preserve it. It seems that her key to success is to tell her story directly to those holding the ultimate power, the people,
That is why a few years ago, I started to research and write my fourth book. Different from my preceding three books, it is a book for lay readers. Once I started, it surprised me to find out that a similar book had not been published before---an astonishing discovery when one takes into consideration how much is the world we live in, a science-based world. In summary, this book intends to present in greater depth what this home page only high-lights. Even though the manuscript is half done, it would be a long time before one could hope to see it in book form. But then I learnt about the Internet and especially about its wonderful World Wide Web.
It was paper and printing which once made possible the Enlightenment and the Lutheran Reformation, both over the blockage by powerful foes. May the Web be the modern counterpart of paper and printing? And may the Web offer me the chance of convincing many of you how much we stand to lose if nothing is done to restore the passion for, honor and truthfulness in that magic enterprise from the West, which we call Science? .
Naturally you, the reader of this home page, would ask, "What can I do?"
What you can and must do is simple but vital. Help me get my message across to as many people as possible and as soon as possible. Tell them that by helping to spread the word around, they would be helping themselves and all others living and yet to come. And that we are on the verge of losing the most precious heritage of Mankind, the basic science which alone can lead to curing cancer and other deadly diseases. Please contact me by E-mail, snail-mail etc. (for addresses, see end of this home-page). Let me know what you think and want to know or suggest, so that we can take full advantage of all your talents, knowledge and insight for our common cause.
By spreading the word around, we hope to achieve two objectives.
The first objective is like that of Rachel Carson. Your voice in conjunction with those of many others' will gradually allow the truth to be broadly known. The aroused public opinion will eventually lead to the reform of our basic science research support systems and a renewed faith of all people in what basic scientific research honestly pursued may offer for the future.
The second objective is to insure the continuation of legitimate cell physiology. To achieve these goals, we must build lasting and safe niches to attract the best of the young generation and clearly announce to the world that basic science has once more resumed its historical course, as one of the noblest, the most exciting and the most rewarding work on which one can spend one's life.
The current crisis--- from the relentless persecution of those associated with the AI Hypothesis to the public disillusionment with basic science--- reminds us of the demise of the Mediterranean science after the execution of Bruno and the life-imprisonment of Galileo. True, science survived then, but only because new homes of science emerged elsewhere in Europe. As the second millennium is drawing to an end, basic science needs a new beginning once more.
Shall we seek new home(s) for legitimate cell physiology elsewhere also? For a variety of reasons, it would be unwise to do so (see below), even though foreign adoption is infinitely more preferable to allowing legitimate cell physiology to die on the vine--- now a distinct possibility if nothing is done to avert it and done soon.
Are we to let legitimate cell physiological research move to another country also (or vanish altogether)? Of course, everyone understands that the pursuit of pure knowledge knows no national boundary. Indeed, some conditions are more favorable in countries coming from behind: They have less vested interest in the status quo, and they may not yet have fallen for the kind of peer review system which has brought us to our present predicament.
Nevertheless, in my opinion it would be foolish and near-sighted to let legitimate cell physiology slip away. It was in America that the AI Hypothesis was born, and it was American money which has up to now nurtured its growth. Given the right protection and support, it is likely to move forward fastest here than anywhere else, thereby saving countless lives. Thus American has an abundance of intelligent and well-educated young people in need of intellectually-exciting and morally-appealing jobs; American is the richest country in the world, and thus able to afford expenditures poorer countries cannot; in America the majority of its citizens believe in and will fight for intellectual freedom, without which Science cannot survive; many Americans know how progress of basic science eventually creates new jobs and with new jobs, greater prosperity. Above all, America is a kind and generous country. It is unlikely that she will use, for example, a cancer cure as an economic and/or political weapon, while in a country under an ambitious and unstable leadership, the temptation might be too strong to resist. Lastly, I and my two colleagues are here in America and are actively pursuing what we have been pursuing for more than forty years. We are also eager and ready to offer out best.
But for that Renaissance to arise amongst the still-smouldering ashes of corruption and cynicism in the government-supported cell physiological research, we must first find an alternative non-governmental source of wealth ( before the government funding system is straightened out. And it would be foolish to expect that to happen soon.) (For new development in the funding of federal governemnt supported biomedical research, see end of article, note added on March 26, 1998)
For one familiar with American history, that alternative source of wealth is not far to find. They are the philanthropists. Indeed, it was wealth from philanthropists which has already played a major role in providing the good medicine that the average American citizen enjoys today. It was wealth from philanthropists which founded one of the greatest basic scientific research institute in existence Only now we need the help from philanthropists like never before.
As mentioned, America now has the world's best medicine. This was not always so. At the turn of the 20th century, American medicine was so backward that a medical degree even from Harvard could be obtained by paying tuition without regular attendance. Germany was then the unquestioned leader in both teaching of, and research in medicine. Then something happened.
It happened in 1873 in the mind of a successful Baltimore merchant, Johns Hopkins . He asked: Why should a great country like America be so far behind in medicine? In answer, he bequeathed his fortune of $7 million to build a university with emphasis on higher learning and a hospital linked to (the medical school of) the University. That was the largest single donation ever made by a philanthropist up to this point in history.
By that magnanimous act of devotion to his fellow-men living and yet to be born, Johns Hopkins began the writing of one of the most glorious chapters of American history. He and three other great philanthropists, steel magnate Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919), oil man John D. Rockefeller Sr. (1839-1937) and his son, John D. Rockefeller, Jr.(1874-1960)---who together contributed something close to half a billion dollars-aided by four equally selfless, wise and courageous men--- President Daniel C. Gilman of the newly-founded Johns Hopkins University, Frederick T. Gates and Wallace Buttrick of the General Education Board, and the capable and fearless educator and man of good will, Abraham Flexner--- almost overnight turned American medical education from the bottom to the top of the world. A guiding principle President Gilman adhered to in all his constructive activities is to choose the best man and let him alone.
(A bit of wisdom I picked up from some writing I read recently---but forgot where: the only money you can take to your grave is the money you gave away.)
Can anyone ever tell how many people's lives were/are/will be made longer, happier and more fulfilling by the gifts of these eight unusual people? Nobody can. The unique greatness of these philanthropists lies in their benefitting all Mankind existing and forever to come. But the deeds of those four philanthropists also inspired still other wealthy and generous souls to follow in their footsteps.
With endowment from another pair of philanthropists, Louis Bamberger and his sister Mrs. Felix Fuld, Abraham Flexner then founded the (Research) Institute of Advanced Studies at Princeton, comprising several independent schools. Here too, he faithfully followed the principle Gilman introduced: choose the best men and women and let them alone. Thus to the Institute, Flexner invited the greatest of scientists of his time, including Albert Einstein. The Institute included a school of mathematics, a school of economics but no cell physiology. The first installment of the endowment from Mr. Bamberger and Mrs. Fuld was $ 5 million. The time was 1930.
The reader knows well the fact that the AI hypothesis has not been completely eradicated by now is due to the generous support of Dr. Raymond Damadian and his Fonar Corporation. Though doing everything they can, our host company is still too young and too vulnerable to shoulder the greater load beyond what they have been doing. There is no prospect of supporting a younger generation of cell physiologists here or elsewhere to take up where and when the the three of us can continue no more.
On early pages I have described how the genius of the enlightened monarchs had outwitted the hostile peers from their natural inclination to block progress. They did it by creating safe niches for innovative scientists and their young followers. Then the peer review system came and it destroyed all. The disaster you have read above followed inevitably.
In this rapdily changing world, if one you does not move forward, one moves backward. However, just as we have the potential of lapsing into the "Dark Ages", we also have the potential of launching a new beginning, a RENAISSANCE. Strongly favoring the realization of this good potential is a simple basic fact: at the current stage of development, basic cell physiological research does not require many scientists, nor huge sums of money. A few highly qualified scientists, fully supported and protected in their new niches from hostile peers, are all we need in the near future.
Columbus' appeal to Queen Isabella to finance his planned voyage to the East by sailing west was turned down. Then she suddenly changed her mind. As a result, Spain gained a New World. What caused her dramatic turnaround? Historian told us that it was what the keeper of her private purse told her of history's great bargain To finance Columbus' enterprise would cost no more than a week's royal entertainment for a visiting dignitary.
The expenditure now required to keep a single really-sick AIDS patient alive and reasonably comfortable ($150,000 per year) is enough to enable Margaret Ochsenfeld, Zhen-dong Chen and myself to carry on our research as we have been doing during the last nine years (discounting the value of the few pieces of old instruments still working and sundries we brought here from Philadelphia).
To fully grasp what a bargain it is to support a few more (young) cell physiologists at this time, I mention that it would cost $25,000 per year to support a single welfare recipient, more than that sum to support a criminal serving a life sentence in a penitentiary, and 5.5 million a year to support a gifted basket-ball player like Charlie Barkley.
In providing support for one or more young scientist(s), our philanthropists will be investing on the way to a lasting security for all Mankind, and that includes philanthropists, scientists, welfare-recipients, criminals serving life sentences as well as Charlie Barkley. And how much is that worth? Simple arithmetic tells us that it should be worth at least $ 5.5 million a year. Right? No? Too little?
As a more cogent benchmark, recall that the US government is investing $355 billion to improve one weapon, a jet fighter. What can this new et-fighter do for America's lasting security that our existing virtually-perfect-if-not- already-perfect jet-fighter F-15 cannot do? Not that much. Even a more-perfect-than-perfect jet-fighter cannot do more than bringing victory in a combat with a human enemy. But we don't have the slightest idea who that human enemy is. We are sure, though, that that human enemy is not at this very moment killing 1500 American men, women and children each day--- as cancer does today and every other day. Do I need to say more why to enable legitimate cell physiological research to continue into the future is vastly smarter investment in lasting security than in jet fighters? But so very much cheaper.
Indeed, even if a mere one tenth of one per cent (i.e., 0.1%) of that earmarked to improve the jet fighter, namely 355 million---when set up as a foundation, will ensure a successful Renaissance of legitimate cell physiology and what it stands for and promises for the future forever to come.
Nor do I need to reiterate that in the long run this investment of our philanthropist(s) may offer the only way toward saving the vastly larger sums (e.g., $10 billion to $135 billion per year now) to sustain the AIDS patients in the US and to care for the vastly larger (and rapidly growing) number of untreated HIV positive patients throughout the world (total estimated at 21.6 million as of July 1996), to whom---as things stand now--- we cannot offer even the hope for relief. And each one of those untreated AIDS patient is the breeding ground for more and new deadly microbes.Who can assure us that some of the newer HIV viruses may not become air-borne?
With the past history of science to guide us, we will select, train and nurture one or more young scientists. We too will follow the Gilman strategy: choose and train the best people and give them freedom from distraction of all sorts, including job security--- as Enlightened Monarchs had once done for their few but highly effective scientists who gave us the transistor radio and other splendid inventions that have made modern life so delightful.
We will experiment with variations on ideas for supporting basic scientific research and eventually create not only a system actively supporting major cell physiological research of highly capable scientists but also a model for supporting scientific research for all the world to emulate. One may add that if such a workable system is on hand and its superiority clearly demonstrable, it would make the formidable task of reforming the massive government-research support system a whole lot easier.
Ultimately wouldn't we all like to see advanced basic cell physiological research and applied biomedical research which the basic research spawns--- supported by a variety and large number of financial sources, private as well as governmental--- laying the foundation for a new world of lasting universal health, happiness and well-being for every one, rich or poor?
Finally you may raise the question: "I am not a scientist. How can I be sure that you are not a crackpot? And that the AI Hypothesis is right and the membrane-pump theory is wrong as you claim?"
In the scientific papers and books I wrote , especially "A Revolution in the Physiology of the Living Cell", you can find the definitive documented disproofs of the membrane-pump theory and the affirmation of the AI Hypothesis. However, even if you are not a cell physiologist, there is no reason why you cannot ask one or more of your science-inclined friend(s) to take a look at my book and I will be glad to answer questions he/she/they may raise. I have always been and still am willing and eager to debate any qualified person on the subject of the membrane pump theory versus the AI Hypothesis (see below and above). The Citation Index mentioned above found in most big libraries will offer the means of checking out my key statements and who had the final say on each subject.
I also offer a brief summary of the key scientific evidence against the membrane pump theory in linked pages. In another linked page, I present a summary of my education and the various academic and professional positions I have held throughout my professional life as well as a vignette of my close relatives. Immediately below I also provide four pieces of ancillary evidence unencumbered by scientific lingoes:
Books are as a rule where definitive knowledge is stored. Throughout its long history, supporters of the membrane-pump theory have not yet published a single-author book on all major topics of cell physiology between the same covers. In contrast, I alone have written three. One reason for this sharp contrast lies in the difference between the two theories. From its beginning, the AI Hypothesis has been comprehensive, self-consistent and unifying ( in addition to being fully confirmed). It offers physico-chemical mechanisms for all aspects of basic cell physiology in a coherent way. The membrane pump theory has been entirely ad hoc and piecemeal from its very beginning and has remained so ever since. Its key concept often represents nothing more than rephrasing of an observation with no specific physico-chemical mechanism for the phenomenon observed. When you put many chapters between the same covers, only a self-consistent theory of cell physiology can hold them together and make sense.
Besides, it is unlikely that someone in his/her right mind would want to spend a lot of time writing a book trying to sell a thoroughly disproved theory.
"Dr. Ling is one of the most inventive biochemists I have ever met..." [ A recommendation from Prof. Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, Nobel Laureate].
"Your book ( A Physical Theory of the Living State, Blaisdell, New York) strikes me as being one of the most important and advanced contributions to the understanding of the structure of living systems which I have seen during the last 10 or 20 years..." [Prof. Lancelot Law Whyte, Cambridge University, Cambridge, England;Stanford University, California, US, 1963; author of "The Unitary Principle in Physics and Biology", London, Cresset; New York, Holt, 1949)
"Dr. Gilbert N. Ling played a central role in the development of the Ling-Gerard microelectrode. The microelectrode has subsequently proven to be one of the most important device applied to the study of cellular physiology.."........ [NIH Summary Statement 1 R)11 HL 39249-01, April 30 1987].
"Dr. Gilbert Ling is a prominent cell physiologist and scientific investigator whose reputation is based on his imagination, skill as an experimenter, and prodigious scientific output..."..... [NIH Summary Statement 2 RO1 GM11422-21, Feb/Mar, 1986]
" I am really impressed by your beautiful work..." [Prof. U. Kaatze, Drittes Physikalisches Institut der Universitaet Goettingen, Goettingen, F. R. Germany]. Feb/March, 1986]
"tour de force and really magnificent...my congratulations on a masterpiece..." [ Prof. Douglas Kell, The University College of Wales, Aberystwyth, United Kingdom].
"Your papers are the source of my inspiration. This year I've acquired the reputation of a 'Lingist' ..." [Prof. Vladimir V. Matveev, Laboratory of Molecular Biophysics, Institute of Marine Biology, Academy of Sciences, USSR. Vladivostok, USSR]
"You are if I may say so, one of the great original thinkers of today..." [Prof. Harold Hillman, Department of Physiology, University of Surrey, Guildford Surrey, England].
"I am inspired by your sense of history and the thought that those who make new history are usually those who know history..." [Prof. Sidney W. Fox, Institute of Molecular and Cellular Evolution, University of Miami, Coral Gables, Fl].
I have tried to initiate, and have accepted (and will accept) with alacrity and promptness every invitation to participate in a public debate on the membrane-pump theory versus the AI Hypothesis. In contrast, supporters of the membrane-pump theory have consistenly refused invitations to debate me in public. Nor is this reluctance difficult to understand. As just mentioned above, all the evidence once thought to support the membrane-pump theory have long ago been either disproved or made equivocal. There is nothing they can cite in support of that theory. However, there was an exception. One champion for the membrane pump theory, Professor Y, did accept the invitation to debate me.
It was evening oan August 19 of 1976, and the debate was arranged by the President of the Society of Mathematical Biology, the late Professor George Karreman. Professor Y from a well-known and prestigious southern University ascended to the podium in front a large audience at the University of Pennsuylvania auditorium ready for the first round of debate.
It was to the utter astonishment of myself (and unquestionaly the audience too), Professor Y could not answer the first rather basic question I put to him, and stood speechless alone on the podium for what seemed to me an eternity, until finally my sense overtook my astonishment and I rescued him with a question about his own recent work.
Let me make it perfectly clear that there is no doubt in my mind that Professor Y was/is a highly competent and first-rate scientist. Only like many others, his knowledge about cell physiology seemed focussed on a narrow area of knowledge then popular. For information on other relevant closely related areas, he most probably have gained second-hand through reding scientific reviews. Whether or not Professor Y then became also a victim of the specific review of Glynn and Karlish and other "cooked" reviews like it---like Professor Pater Mitchell mentioned earlier---, I cannot tell for sure. That Professor Y apparently knew virtually nothing about the the AI hypothesis and the vast amount of information centering around it or the abundance of disproofs of the membrane-pump theory, there is less uncertainty.
As the common saying goes, the proof of the pudding is in the eating . A "proof" that a scientific theory is correct is its ability to generate useful products. I have already cited how as our knowledge of electricity and magnetism advanced, a whole string of increasingly more sophisticated useful products were invented, including the transistor radio.
Despite its extensive governmental support , and the vast number who have subscribed to it, the membrane pump theory has not produced a single useful invention throughout its long history.
In contrast, in spite of its minute number of subscribers (for reasons already made clear above in the story of my former students) and its youthfulness, the AI Hypothesis has already given rise to a biomedical technological invention of great value. Known as magnetic resonance imaging or MRI, its inventor and patent-holder is Dr. Raymond Damadian. On July 15, 1988, Dr. Damadian and Dr. Paul C. Lauterbur conjointly received from President Ronald Reagan the National Technological Award. On February 12 in 1989, Dr. Damadian (alone) was inducted into the National Inventors' Hall of Fame, thus joining ranks with such historical figures as Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell. On November 9, 1977, Dr. Damadian wrote me:
"On the morning of July 3, 1977, at 4:45 A.M....we achieved with great jubilation the world's first MRI image of the live human body. The achievement originated in the modern concepts of salt water biophysics which you are the grand pioneer with your classic treatise, the association-induction hypothesis"
The prototype MRI machine with which Dr. Damadian and his coworkers had made this first image is now in the Smithsonian Institute of Washington
D.C. MRI has since then long become a multi-billion dollar industry and it is routinely used to detect cancer and in many other ways saving human
lives from day to day.
Gilbert N. Ling, Ph.D.
With the continued prosperity of the Nation and the prospect of a balanced budget, the Clinton administration has announced recently that it plans to increase substantially the budget for the National Institute of Health in the coming years. To what extent is the increased budget intended for the support of basic research is not clear.But poring money into biomedical research support is important in that it shows that the government is playing a higher priority on the unneceaary deaths and suffering of innocent people. But if the additional money is merely to do more of the same, the gain would be trivial. The key issue is still on reforming the destructive peer review sysem as it is being practiced at NIH and other research-suporting agencies. However, to think that this is an easy task is just unrealistic. Only an informed public can put enough pressure on the system to change in the right direction.
I have also learnt that the regular Physiology Study Section--- which had for many years relentlessly supported with public money the long defunct membrane-pump theory and blocked the progress of legitimate cell physiology--- has been disbanded. The reason for this rather unusual action is unknown to me as of this moment.
(A note added on March 26, 1998.)