I’ve been called a “disruptor” before, but I’ve never considered myself a “visionary.” To my surprise, I was recently called just that, and by colleagues about whom I might use the same term. Quite flattering, really.
Meeting of Minds
We met just outside of Washington, at the invitation of the NIH and CDC, to discuss what’s known about how one’s fertility status might correlate to current and future health. I was told that this think tank was partly inspired by our work showing that infertile men have higher cancer rates later in life. I remember attending NIH meetings in 2009 and 2011, soon after these results were published, and letting fly with the idea that infertility could be a “window” into men’s health. Back then, I saw it as a golden opportunity to take earlier, better and more informed care of men.
Since then, other studies have confirmed our findings, and some have even gone beyond that to suggest that infertile men are actually less healthy than fertile men, and that infertile men may not live as long as fertile men. Still others have shown that the same may be true for infertile women. Breaker one-nine, we got us a convoy!
Your Tax Dollars
My hat goes off to the NIH and CDC who, having observed this evolution of thought, called us together to take action and develop a game plan for change. In my breakout group, here are some of the goals we felt needing pursuing now:
- Develop fertility biomarkers that correlate with overall health
- Define the relevance of fertility to overall health as early as possible in life
- Use fertility biomarkers to individualize health care screening throughout life.
- Use fertility biomarkers to detect diseases earlier than currently done, if done at all.
Maybe it’s my relatively simple upbringing, or maybe it’s the professor within me, but I have always asked “why?” Probably bugs the heck out of many people I know, but it’s in my DNA: Don’t settle; inquire. Warms the cockles of my heart to know that our government cares enough to ask similar questions. And to ask them of such important issues as fertility and health, subjects that so profoundly influence our lives and the lives of generations to come.
As yet another tax return deadline is upon us, you too should feel comfort in knowing that your tax dollars are spent on things that matter. Realize that your government actually has a heart and even a soul and that, in some small but noble and humanistic way, what matters to you also matters to them.