So there’s this great thing on change.gov called the President’s Briefing Book, where real folks can write up an idea which gets voted on, and the most popular ideas will be brought to Obama. Lots of them are really good, and show the wide range of concerns held by the American people from light rail transportation to the Employee Free Choice Act.
There are a lot of things I’d like to see implemented in this country, a lot changes made, and from reading what I write you pretty much know that marriage equality is a huge issue for me, and there are several suggestions in the briefing book including the repeal of DOMA. I voted on ideas important to me and then I…uh, wrote up one myself.
Rather than be redundant and draw away from the many articulate ideas I share with others who had posted their (far less typo-ridden) thoughts, I wrote something new something I hadn’t really gone into before, which like Civil Marriage Equality, won’t cost the government very much money, won’t raise taxes and will benefit millions of citizens: Opening scientific medical research exchange with Cuba. I know it’s a tiny weird idea, but Cuba’s CIM, the Center of Molecular Immunology, has made some amazing strides in immunology research projects focused on cancer immunotherapy, especially the development of molecular vaccines. Yeah, cancer vaccines.
In the United States cancer is the second leading cause of death, with some half a million people dying every year from that disease. Cancer knows no political boundaries, the immune system is not a political entity, and scientific research–like art–is both inspiration and hard work.
But in 2003 the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control ("OFAC") established a regulation stating that publishing works–articles, short stories, research papers–from Cuba, Libya, Sudan and Iran was in violation of the embargos imposed on those countries, and required a license in order to publish anything from poetry to scientific articles. Those who did not comply with the regulation could have been fined up to $50,000 and sentenced to 10 years in prison.
A group of publishers and editors quickly filed suit and the matter was thankfully resolved in 2007. Now I’d like to see that embargo further lifted to allow scientists from the US and Cuba to inspire and work together in laboratories.
Opening the door for Cuban researchers to work with their American compatriots in the field of immunology allows for the exchange of ideas and information that can help speed cures and vaccines, not only for cancer, but for diabetes, hepatitis C, diabetes, allergies and HIV/AIDS. Unlocking the secrets of the immune system can lead to lowered health care costs; better, cheaper drugs in the pipeline; and and overall growth of scientific research. And yes, an end to cancer and other immune system disorders.
So have fun in the Briefing Book, write up your own ideas, vote for what’s important to you and enjoy this new way of making our thoughts and concerns known to our new administration.