Farewell Science Cafe: A Conversation with You, our Readers and Listeners

Jeff Miller

It’s always hard to let go of something you have nurtured, tended and loved. But as every parent knows, there comes a day when you need to send your creation off into the world.

That day has come for Science Café. This will be my last entry and my last episode.

After 23 years at UCSF, I am leaving to take a new position as head of Public Affairs at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

As I look back over the last two years, I am proud that we were able to bring an idea to life so successfully. I could not have imagined that what first flashed into my mind on a train ride between Munich and Frankfurt would now command a podcast listening audience of thousands per week—and an equal number of readers, at least, that is, when we were able to post the transcripts. I apologize for that failure.

Of course, there could not have been a Science Café without so many superb scientists willing to participate. UCSF is fortunate to have such in abundance. Indeed, as I contemplate my long career, it is the conversations with scientists that I remember most and hold most dear.

Scientists are the spirit and soul of UCSF. Their curiosity fuels all the discoveries that ultimately improve human health and while they might be far removed from the bedside, make no mistake. That drug you take, that healing therapy you enjoy, that hope you feel, often began in the mind of a scientist who wondered why something works as it does or why it fails so completely.

Sadly, science is not funded properly in this country. True, billions of dollars are awarded annually, but as any public university scientist will tell you, the money available for research – and the graduate education that is its lifeblood -- is drying up.

Now, I didn’t want my final Science Café to sound like a pledge night, but the fact remains that science needs your support and that includes emotional support as well as dollars. If you need convincing, if you need to be reminded that there is transformative science going on everywhere at UCSF, just listen again to the podcast archive, which will endure after my departure.

Science Café, too, will live on, thanks to my UCSF colleague Jeffrey Norris and our multimedia expert Tony Taliaferro.

I encourage you to keep reading, keep listening, keep believing. In the end, science will set you free.

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