Craig C. Mello: The world will remember what we do here

January 31, 2013

mello-ASC-openingRemarks by 2006 Nobel Laureate Craig C. Mello, PhD, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, the Blais University Chair in Molecular Medicine and distinguished professor of molecular medicine and cell & developmental biology, at the Albert Sherman Center ribbon cutting ceremony on Wednesday, Jan. 30.

This ceremony brings to mind another dedication that took place 150 years ago. On that occasion, at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on a great battlefield of the Civil War, President Lincoln with just 10 sentences, inspired and began to heal a nation still sundered by war.

Today, ladies and gentlemen, we too “are met on a great battlefield.” A battlefield in the war against disease and human suffering. Just as Gettysburg marked a turning point in the Civil War, today, advances in medicine and in our basic understanding of disease bring great hope.

However, this war is far from over. Indeed, as we speak, it is being fought across the green—by our neighbors and fellow citizens, some of them only children. Despite our most advanced and cutting edge therapies, and all the best efforts of our caregivers, many will lose their personal battles.

Lincoln’s reference to the great courage and sacrifice of the soldiers of Gettysburg brings to mind the courage of our patients. Patients like my daughter Victoria who learned here on our campus that her life would be changed by a disease called diabetes. Other neighbors and friends learn here of cancer, developmental and psychological disorders and of devastating degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and ALS.

Lincoln said, “The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.” Ladies and gentlemen, while it is fitting and just, that we remember and honor the sacrifices of our soldiers, sadly we too often forget the suffering and the extraordinary courage of the soldiers who fight today, and every day, on this battlefield.

We, the citizens of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, are very fortunate indeed, to have a governor and legislators who have not forgotten these soldiers (some of them tiny) who fight every day in this very personal war against disease.

I know I speak for all of us here at the medical school when I say we are deeply honored by the faith you have shown in us, by making this building possible.

We have gathered here today to dedicate this new building to its task. As Lincoln said, “It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.”

And yet, we must also remember the admonishment of Lincoln that "we cannot do this." And his call to a higher purpose: Instead, as Lincoln said, “It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great unfinished task remaining before us.”

To my colleagues, doctors, nurses, students, researchers and our support staffs, I say: Yes, the world will little note, nor long remember what we say here. But the world will remember what we do here!

Indeed, it could make all the difference!