Michael Friedlander, Ph.D.

How much research does a doctor need to know? In the past, it was enough for physicians to treat illnesses and injuries. If they wanted to understand the molecular mechanisms of an illness, they could pursue a doctorate. Not so anymore, argued Michael Friedlander, executive director of the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute, at the recent annual meeting of the Association of American Medical Colleges in Chicago, Illinois.

This year’s meeting ran under the header of “Learn, Serve, Lead,” and was opened by Alan Alda, the actor, director, and founder of the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University in New York.

The theme of the meeting – to learn, serve, and lead – was an ode to the ever-changing landscape against which Friedlander set his presentation. Never has there been a more important time in history, Friedlander said, for medical doctors to understand the scientific literature to advocate for the best care for their patients.