Israel Cancer Research Foundation
February, 2007 - Los Angeles



‘Research:’ To search again, to search anew. To search in places where you have not looked before. To be willing to look into the unknown and be willing to fail…be willing to be wrong. It’s almost axiomatic, as well as being a good definition of creativity: to be willing to find, one must be willing to be lost.

When I Chaired the E.G.P.A.F., myself and Dr. Phil Pizzo created the Glaser Pediatric Research Network in response to the need to maintain the relevance of HIV research at a time when the scientific and medical community had provided enough progress and drugs to create the illusion that HIV/Aids had become a ‘manageable disease.’ As we now know this is hardly the case. So we borrowed the model of interdisciplinary collaboration that Elizabeth had created and funded for scientists to share their ideas, to work together, and tried to apply it not only to a network of Universities and teaching hospitals and their researchers, but also to the world of disease. The notion being that while it is beneficial, even mandatory for humans to collaborate and share their research, diseases have been ‘collaborating’ since life began, don’t live in isolation from one another, and therefore it would be valuable to seek the relevancy of research on one disease to the research on another disease. We could learn about cancer and other diseases from research on HIV/AIDS, and we could learn more about HIV/AIDS from our research of other diseases. After all, research on HIV/AIDS is research on our immune system and our immune system is our first line of communication with disease and our only line of defense.

And while the concept seems rather simple, and there are plenty of examples of drugs that have been designed for one disease being discovered as effective for another, getting people to understand the concept and to employ it was not. Teaching other members of the Board and workers at the Foundation to understand a new paradigm and do something creative outside their zone of comfort, to take a chance on an untried idea was difficult. Getting scientists to change the paradigm of their research models and widen the parameters of their studies to allow for those mistakes, those answers which surprise us when they come out of left field, as they do ninety-nine percent of the time, was not simple. Researchers tend to narrow their view as they focus on their target. It’s more comfortable, more controllable that way. It’s easier to believe that you can venture into the unknown and control, if not eradicate the fear of being lost by assigning strict parameters and trying to maintain the illusion of control.

In our world today, where fear and our resulting need for control is so great. Where avoidance of risk, fear of sticking one’s neck out, fear of asking the difficult questions and fear of seeking and speaking the truth is the norm, courage is at a premium. In the bureaucracy of politics, business, science and the arts, fear causes us to walk in lock step, to seek security in conformity. You could make the case that historically this has always been the human condition, except that never have the people of our world lived this close together and felt so far apart…so afraid, so hopeless for a future, so in need of some sense of power to control their destinies.

Today, our search for knowledge is our only hope. Not only for the immediate and not so immediate answers for our day to day life, health and well being, but for its re-affirmation of our greatest human asset, our faith. When we learn, discover or reveal something, we understand intuitively that it is something that belongs to a whole body, a universe, if you will, of knowing that has been there all along. We haven’t created it. We’ve discovered it. We’ve uncovered, revealed something that belongs to a whole body of knowledge; a body of awareness…of consciousness. And in that act of discovery, we re-attach to that body. As if, in describing our arm or leg as a ‘member’ of our body, we re-member, re-attach . And at that moment of connection, we experience that we are a part of that body, a part of everything, and everything is a part of us. We experience that we are not alone in our struggle, that we are part of something larger than us, something greater than this life. And at that moment of discovery and connection, we experience faith. And in that experience of faith, we know one thing for sure…that we are here to belong, we are here to be one with everything. That this knowledge is the gift of being human and that we have the ability to choose. We can choose whether we are going to survive as a life form, to evolve past the finite resources of our Mother Earth and colonize elsewhere in our solar system, or whether we are to be victims of our animal natures that would have us destroy ourselves and each other out of our fear, greed and stupidity.

Israel is nothing if it is not an edifice to courage and faith. The history of Jewish accomplishments in so many aspects of life thru the world’s history and through Israel’s relatively short history as a nation is staggering. The contributions to science, medicine, the arts and literature have been beyond remarkable. Political issues aside, as much as Israel has become a lightening rod for the world’s fear, it has also become a symbol of mans’ ability to survive and keep faith because it is rooted in the Jewish tradition of learning. And while a history of antipathy to the Jewish people and their pursuit of knowledge may be our human nature’s need to strike out in anger, hate, jealousy, and envy from its fear of being powerless, it is also our human nature to find compassion for ourselves and others in our fear, to identify our hearts. And it is our human nature to need to be as one, to yearn to learn, to discover, to re-attach, to remember.

We look at the state of the world today and there is little cause for hope. Sometimes we look away and pretend its not really happening, or it is somebody else’s mess to clean up because we don’t want to deal with the overwhelming fear that we are powerless to do anything to affect anything. In truth, we are very fortunate to be living in this time. We are fortunate because we have ‘choice.’ And if we don’t look away, our fear is always there to show us that we have choice, to show us our hearts and that it is our partner. It has a purpose. The purpose of our fear is to give us the opportunity to love.

-Paul Michael Glaser


Israel Cancer Research Foundation

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