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饶毅的信也是写给所有科学家的

已有 4069 次阅读 2018-9-12 11:01 |个人分类:思考中医|系统分类:海外观察| 科学家脊梁, 饶毅, 知识分子

刚刚在群里看到朋友转来知识分子》的一篇文章“饶毅致信美国科技官员:科学家应该有脊梁”,并评论说:“在美国,科学家应该有脊梁。在一些国家,科学家恐怕连骨头都没了。”

这样看来,饶毅的信不仅仅是写给美国国立健康研究院(NIH)院长Francis Collins的,也是写给全世界所有科学家的。

饶毅是一个很有情怀的科学家,他不仅在自己的专业出类拔萃,还关注科学文化、科技政策等多方面的问题。尽管人们对他贬褒不一,我一直对他怀有敬意。因为这方面的关注,“浪费”了他大量的精力,而且可能收获负面影响。

我认为,一个具有健全人格的科学家都应该读读饶毅的信,甚至那些没有“骨头”的科学家也应该引以为戒。

下面是他的中英文信件:

附饶毅致信美国科技官员:科学家应该有脊梁

知识分子编者按2018年8月20日,美国卫生部所属国家健康研究院NIH)院长柯林斯,致信全美一万多机构,声称国外实体机构开始了系统的计划影响NIH资助的研究者,建议各机构与当地美国联邦调查局FBI)谈话,引起华人社区焦虑。

NIH要求兼职人员对美国任职机构和NIH报告其兼职情况,本来是合理的,并非大事。一个科研项目,有多个国家支持,属合情合理合法。饶毅于8月28日致信柯林斯,指出其观点和行为之错误,9月5日再寄信的修改版给柯林斯。9月11日,柯林斯接受《生物世纪》采访,声称他的信不是针对华人科学家。饶毅此前拒绝了媒体(包括《生物世纪》)的采访。因柯林斯对媒体公布收到饶毅信件,饶毅在《知识分子》公布其中文版和英文版。

 

美国华盛顿特区

国立健康研究院(NIH)院长

Francis Collins医学博士、哲学博士

亲爱的柯林斯博士:

你备受尊重,因为你是研究人类疾病基因变化出类拔萃的科学家,也是令人尊重的、宗旨为“探求生命系统本质和行为根本知识、用于增强健康、延长生命、减少疾患”的国立健康研究院NIH)的院长。

人们欢呼NIH为改善美国人民和全人类的健康所作出的贡献。其传统和标准继承了全人类的文明,而希腊、印度、中国的古代文化都曾对人类文明有所贡献。

智力传承在国家之间交换了很长时间。西方从中国学习了造纸术、指南针、火药和活字印刷,美国从欧洲学习了很多。

科学家不能屈服于政治人物

8月20日所谓美国生物医学研究面临威胁的信令人震惊,因为这是和平时期第一次政府官员限制科学交流。

而如《科学美国人》以下报道的内容更骇人听闻:“柯林斯致信约一万个接受NIH资助的机构,鼓励它们与联邦调查局FBI)地区办公室开会,讨论对于知识产权的威胁和外国干涉”。整个人类历史上,从来没有一个科学家邀请过类似FBI的机构监测“外国干涉”。有些政府这样做过,但不是因为领袖科学家或担任领导职务的科学家发起。即使在苏联最黑暗的时期,领袖科学家也有脊梁做相反的:物理学家卡皮查营救了他的学生朗道,后者在斯大林权力(和恐怖)顶峰时期被调查反斯大林行为。

因此,你的信和你鼓励FBI调查的行动,大大偏离了科学实践的常轨。

几年前,你在上海公开称:科学没有国界,因为它属于人类。

这句话被广泛翻译,人们交口称赞。

柯林斯博士:你那时说的是真理。

真理就是真理。不能因为政治领导人或律师说的不同,科学家就扭曲真理。

科学的永恒和科学家的道德勇气

科学是永恒的;而政治,特别是今天美国正在实践的那种,是短暂的。历史证明,劣质政治会灭亡,正如苏联和纳粹德国所证明的。

我同情大多数美国科学家,你们虽然被教育——也常常自认为——道德正直,其实通常不熟悉历史,不懂如何处理如纳粹德国或苏联那种邪恶政治压力。

附件推荐一篇文章“The Singular Moral Compass of Otto Krayer”),记叙一位德国药理学家,在其事业早期,他拒绝接任因纳粹开除犹太科学家而空出的系主任职位。他可以接受这一职位,不因社会之恶而怪罪自己,但他在完全预见对自己事业的损害情况下,写信拒绝就职。此后他被纳粹禁止任学术职位、连图书馆都不能用。他被迫离开德国不是因为他是犹太人,而是因为他敢于申张正义、声讨罪恶。

最终受纳粹和斯大林主义损害最大的是德国和俄国。希特勒上台之前,德国在数学、物理、化学和你自己研究的遗传学专业都遥遥领先,之后德国科学再也没达到那时的水平。

历史可以重复,如果我们不从过去汲取教训,即使是其他国家的教训。

如今特朗普主义盛行的美国,对美国人,包括美国科学家,都是考验的时刻。

目前,特朗普主义对科学的主要威胁不过是减少预算,与事业被毁、生命被灭还不能相比。但如此下滑,我们怎么知道,在很多学生是外国人、一批教授也是外国人的情况下,有什么可以阻挡竞争的实验室之间不去互相举报“外国影响“?以后的科学讨论,需要分成“美国”和“外国”吗?科学学会的年度会议,应该拒绝“外国影响”吗?NIH资助的美国国内和国际会议,应该请FBI来监控吗?

现在是美国科学家显示自己脊梁的时刻。

科学家及其选择支持的自由

所有科学家都有选择其工作地点的自由,有选择他们认为合适的合作对象的自由。

科学研究可以被任何合法资助机构所支持。政府机构是全世界资助科学的主要来源,这是大家接受的现实。每个科学家接受多个来源的资助也从来不是问题,即使资助来源于多个国家。

就在2015年,你自己领导的NIH与中国的国家自然科学基金会NSFC)宣布共同资助美中生物医学合作项(https://grants.nih.gov/grants/gui-de/rfa-files/RFA-AI-16-006.html)。因此你8月20日声明中所谓“NIH知道有国外实体发起了系统的计划影响NIH研究人员和同行评审”是彻头彻尾的谎言,除非你暗示NIH是阴谋的发起者和积极的伴侣。这明显是指中国,俄国连自己的科学都难以支持,欧洲和日本没有发起新计划。中国发起了招募科学家的计划,无论国籍,但因为语言和文化的原因,多半还是华人。中国没有试图影响NIH研究人员或同行评议。NIH歪曲事实到了无耻的地步。每个国家都有招募的权利。世界应该欢迎越来越多的国家投资科学、支持科学家,因为科学服务于全世界。

因为政府科学基金机构都不享有研究经费支持的研究所带来的专利或其他智力产权,保护专利、合作时合理分配专利完全不在NIH的管辖范围。事实上,30年来,NIH都资助了在中国国内的研究。这些中国研究人员自然都有中国机构的经费。难道你要说这些研究人员代表外国影响?而且他们所有的知识产权属于其单位,中国和美国的政府基金都不能拥有其知识产权,所以由NIH争知识产权是虚伪的。绝大多数研究并不能产生很有价值的知识产权。如果少数研究人员没有填报多重来源,不过是个人瑕疵,你8月20日声明称这种问题为“外国干涉”完全是小题大做。

虽然在美国诞生前,中国在经济上领先世界,但在美国存在的这些年中国的经济相对贫穷,长期难以负担科学经费。现在中国资助科学,既为中国发展,也为世界做贡献。中国资助纯数学和天文学,它们短期不会给任何国家带来经济利益,也许永远不能。NIH自己宣称的目标也不是产生经济回报,这是一个不能因为情人眼里出西施就可以改变的事实。所以,生物医学研究一般不应该带来不同国家、不同政府之间的矛盾。

你的道德传承

你的母校弗吉尼亚大学的创始者汤玛斯·杰弗逊,既是智力巨人,也是自由的旗手。如果他今天活着,他会为你的声明或行动鼓掌吗? 

你在耶鲁大学的研究导师,来自一个有伟大才华的文化,但在西方碰到自己制造的问题的时候常把他们作为替罪羊。犹太人经常被迫害,时而公开而残酷,时如蒙有面纱但也无情。你8月20日的声明无疑针对华裔科学家,似乎要在美国反智非理性的浪潮中用华人代替犹太人做新的替罪羊。

无论是合作还是竞争,徐立之博士于1980年代在发现囊性纤维化罹患基因的过程中,起了重要作用,你也为此共享成果。1980年代,中国还穷,无法提供经济支持。如果这在今天发生,有可能徐博士也会得到中国的支持。你会电话要FBI调查他吗?

如果多个经费机构决定都投入资源支持值得支持的研究,应该欢迎,而不是调查。

简单的建议

已故的麦肯恩参议员曾说:“我希望认为在最艰难的时刻,我做了对的事情,不过你无法知道,除非你被考验”。

今天可能是迄今以来对大多数美国科学家最艰难考验的时刻,特别是对那些在领导职位的人来说。但愿不会变得更艰难。

任何愿意出任你8月20日提出的顾问委员会之成员的科学家,都将染上道德污点。这一委员会应该被解散。你的信应该撤回。

美国科学家会“做对的事情”吗?至少不心甘情愿、主动做错的事情?历史将记录美国科学家能否经受人格和荣誉的真正考验。

希望有更多国际合作

生物医学是进行国际交流与合作最容易的领域,因为它与军事无关,而又对全人类有普适价值。

中国在积极酝酿开始中国脑计划、美国NIH已经有脑计划。中国感兴趣支持脑研究的国际合作,部分原因是促进有利于世界各国人民的研究,部分原因是现在中国不如以前那么穷之后,努力为人类共同目标付出中国的一分。

在这种转折点,NIH应该抛弃与FBI的合作、或自降体面地散布“国外干涉”的吓人谣言,改弦更张,拥抱所有支持生物医学的国家。

中国有长期欣赏智力贡献的传统,但我们的科学没有做到我们应该做的程度。为了成为世界有责任的成员,中国现在提高对科学的支持。应该欢迎所有支持科学的国家。如果有竞争,应该如奥林匹克运动一样。

生物医学研究的成果为全人类所共享;科学是有助于不同国家人民之间相互理解的主要桥梁之一。

诚挚的,

饶毅, 哲学博士

北京大学-IDG/麦戈文脑研究所教授、所长

北京大学理学部主任

北京脑中心主任

中国北京

1:Truth is truth,源自2018年8月美国总统的律师Rudy Giuliani在接受电视访谈时称“truth isn’t truth”, 被反驳。

2:“事实是情人眼里出西施”,认为事实也不是事实,而是因观察者而异。英文“情人眼里出西施”为“beauty is in the eyes of the beholder”。在同一电视访谈中,Giuliani称“facts are in the eyes of the beholder”。

3:Collins本科念弗吉尼亚大学,其创办者为美国第三任总统杰弗逊。Collins的研究生导师为耶鲁大学教授、犹太移民后代。Collins最重要的研究为克隆囊性纤维化(cystic fibrosis)的罹患基因,这一工作最重要的科学家是香港旅加拿大华人学者徐立之,徐后来曾出任香港大学校长。

 

Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D.

Director

The National Institutes of Health

Washington, DC

USA

Dear Dr. Collins,

You are highly respected as a scientist who has carried out outstanding research on genetic mutations underlying human diseases, and as a leader of the NIH whose mission “is to seek fundamental knowledge about the nature and behavior of living systems and the application of that knowledge to enhance health, lengthen life, and reduce illness and disability”.

NIH is lauded for its contributions to improving the health of Americans, as well as the health of the humankind. Its tradition and standards are the heritage of human civilizations, to which ancient cultures from the Greek, the Indian, and the Chinese have all contributed.

 

Intellectual legacy and heritage have been exchanged internationally for a long time. The West has learned about paper manufacturing, the compass, the gunpowder, and printing from China. The US has learned much from Europe.

Scientists with Spines Do Not 

Bend to Politicians 

Your August 20th statement is shocking because it is the first time when any government official has issued a statement restricting scientific collaborations in peacetime.

Furthermore, the following, as reported in Scientific American is appalling: “Collins also wrote to roughly 10,000 NIH grant institutions encouraging them to set up briefings with FBI field offices about threats to intellectual property and foreign interference.” No SCIENTIST in the entire history of humankind has asked FBI equivalents to monitor “foreign interference”. Some governments have done so, but not at the initiation of leading scientists or scientists in leadership positions. Even in the worst times of the Soviet Union, leading scientists had the spine to do the opposite: the physicist Pyotr Kapitsa rescued his student Lev Landau when the latter was investigated for anti-Stalin activities in the peak of Stalin’s power (and terror).

Your letter and your action of encouraging FBI collaborations are thus extraordinary deviations from the normal practice of science.

You publicly stated a few years ago in Shanghai: science has no national boundaries because it belongs to the humankind. This was translated and widely applauded.

Dr. Collins: what you said then is the truth.

Truth is truth. No scientist can bend the truth just because political leaders or lawyers say otherwise.

The Eternality of Science and the Moral Courage of Scientists

Science is eternal, whereas politics, as the kind practiced in the present day US, is transient. History has proved that bad politics perish, as in the cases of the Soviet Union, and Nazi Germany. The Trumpism US will be an exception only if the Sun rises from the West in the future.

I am sympathetic that most US scientists, while always taught, and often self-assumed, to be morally upright, usually do not understand history and do not know how to deal with political pressures of the evil nature, such as those in Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union.

Attached please find an article (“The Singular Moral Compass of Otto Krayer”) about a German pharmacologist, who, while in his early budding career, refused to take up a chairmanship opened up by Nazi firing of a Jewish scientist. While he could have accepted the position, without blaming himself for societal ills, Krayer wrote a letter of refusal, fully anticipating damages to his own career. He was thereafter barred from all academic jobs and even the use of libraries in Germany. He had to leave Germany, not because he was Jewish, but because he stood up for what was right and against what was wrong. 

In the end, Nazism and Stalinism had damaged Germany and Russia the most. Germany, which was leading in mathematics, physics, chemistry and your own field of genetics before Hitler, has never been able to regain its scientific strength to the level reached before Nazism.

History can repeat itself if we do not learn from the past, even if the past was in other countries.

With Trumpism presently prevalent in the US, it is a testing time for many Americans including American scientists.

At this point, Trumpism in the US can mainly threaten science with reduction of budgets, nothing compared to careers ruined or lives destroyed. If allowed to go on the slippery road, how do we know that competing labs will not report on each other for foreign interferences or influences when a large number of students and a significant number of faculty members are foreign-born? Should future discussions of science be separated into “American” and “Foreign”?  Should future classrooms, meeting rooms, etc., be similarly separated? Should annual meetings of academic societies and associations refuse to have “foreign influences”? Should NIH funded domestic and international meetings be monitored by the FBI?

It is time for American scientists to show their spines.

Freedom of Scientists and Their Choices of Support

All scientists have the right to work wherever they choose, and the freedom to collaborate with whomever they deem appropriate.

Scientific research can be supported by any legitimate funding agency, most of which are governmental across the entire world. Funding of individual scientists by multiple sources is not an issue of concern, even when funding comes from different countries. 

As recent as 2015, your own NIH and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) announced the U.S.-China Program for Biomedical Collaborative Research (R01) (https://gr-ants.nih.gov/grants/guide/rfa-files/RFA-AI-16-006.html). So, the statement in your August 20th letter that “NIH is aware that some foreign entities have mounted systematic programs to influence NIH researchers and peer reviewers" is a total lie unless you are implying that the NIH is an initiating and active partner in such a conspiracy. This is clearly targeting China because Russia can barely fund its science, Europe and Japan have not launched any new programs. China has launched new programs to recruit scientists, regardless of national origin but most are scientists of Chinese origin because of linguistic and cultural differences. China has not tried to influence NIH researchers or peer reviewers. The “Thousand Talent Program” is to recruit more scientists, not to influence any other country. NIH is shameless in distorting the truth. Any and every country has the right to recruitment. The world should welcome more and more countries to invest in science and support scientists because science serves the entire world. 

Because no government agency for science funding holds patents or other intellectual properties resulting from research supported by their grants, it is completely outside the scope of the NIH but in the realm of institutions to protect their intellectual properties (IP) and to assign proper rights to the collaborators in cases of collaborations.  NIH has funded researchers in China for more than 30 years. Naturally, all those supported by the NIH also have grants from Chinese funding agencies. Are you going to say that all these investigators represent foreign influences? Furthermore, all their IPs belong to their institutions. It is hypocritical for the NIH to argue about IPs when neither the Chinese nor the US government funding agencies are involved in IPs. The vast majority of grants never lead to valuable IPs. If a few researchers fail to report multiple sources, it is but a small fault of an individual with minor consequences, which was blown out of proportion by your August 20th statement as foreign interferences.

China, having led the world economically before the birth of the US, was relatively poor economically and could not afford to fund science for most of the time when the US has been in existence. China is now capable of funding science, both for the development of China and as a contribution to the world. China funds pure mathematics and astronomy, which are not expected to generate any economic benefits for any particular country in a short time, if ever. The stated mission of the NIH is not to generate economic benefits, either, a fact that should not change in the eyes of the beholder. Thus funding for most of the biomedical sciences should not be a source of conflict between different countries.

Your Conscientious Heritage

Thomas Jefferson, the founder of your alma mater the University of Virginia, was an intellectual giant, and a champion for freedom. Had he been alive today, would he applaud your letter or action? 

Your own research advisor at Yale came from a culture of great talents which were made scapegoats whenever Westerners run into troubles of their own making. The Jewish people were often persecuted, sometimes blatantly and sometimes in a thinly veiled manner. Your August 20th letter is obviously targeting scientists of Chinese origin, making Chinese as the new scapegoat of anti-intellectual irrationality in the US.

Whether collaborating or competing, Dr. Lap-Chee Tsui played an important role in the success of discovering the cystic fibrosis susceptibility gene in the 1980s, for which you shared the credit. In the 1980s, China was poor and could not offer financial support. Had the same happened today, it is possible that Dr. Tsui would also receive support from China. Would you call the FBI to investigate him?

If funding agencies decide to pool in resources for worthy research, that should be welcome, not investigated.

Simple Suggestions

The late John McCain once remarked: “I like to think that in the toughest moments I’d do the right thing, but you never know until you are tested”.

This is certainly the toughest moment so far for most American scientists, especially those in leadership positions. One can only wish that it would not get any tougher.

Any scientist willing to serve on the Advisory Committee stipulated in your August 10th letter will be morally tainted. The Committee should be disbanded. The letter should be retracted.

Will leading American scientists do the right thing, or at least not willingly and proactively do the wrong thing? History will remember how American scientists stand a true test of character and honor.

Hope for More International Collaborations

Because it is not related to the military and because of its universal values to the humankind, international exchanges and collaborations are the easiest in the biomedical sciences.

China is actively planning to start the Chinese Brain Initiative. The US NIH already has a Brain Initiative. China is interested in supporting international collaborations in brain research, partly to promote research that will benefit people of all countries, partly as an effort to pay our share for common goal snow that China is not as poor as before.

At such junctures, NIH should discard short-sighted collaborations with the FBI or self-degrading fear-mongering of “foreign interferences”, and instead embrace efforts by all countries to support biomedical research.

China has a long tradition of valuing intellectual contributions, but our science has not been as good as it should. To become a responsible member of the world, China is now increasing its support in the sciences. All countries should be welcome for their support of science. If there are competitions, the Olympic Games have shown us how to compete.

Fruits of biomedical research will be enjoyed by all humans; science will remain a major bridge of mutual understanding between people of different countries and cultures.

 Sincerely yours,

Yi Rao, Ph.D.

Professor and Director, PKU-IDG/McGovern Institute for Brain Research

Dean, Division of Sciences, Peking University

Director, Chinese Institute for Brain Research, Beijing

China 




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