Last week, industry leaders joined PhRMA for “Sequencing the Genome: Examining Modern Medicine,” a conversation focused on leading scientific minds and the breakthrough treatments they’re working to advance. The powerful conversation began with Claire Pomeroy, president and CEO of the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation, an organization committed to programs and initiatives that inspire the next generation of researchers.

When asked about the current pipeline of research talent, Pomeroy stresses the importance of fostering that talent. “We need to view medical research as a public good, and we need to invest in it. We need to make sure we’re nurturing the next generation of researchers.” Pomeroy notes the critically important common thread she sees in both current and future scientists.” I truly believe that most scientists go into research because they want to make a difference; they want to do good for others. When I talk to a researcher who has discovered a new therapy…their face lights up about the good they can do for people.”

Pomeroy also offered her opinion on how genomic medicine has altered the field, in ways both drastic and beneficial. “It’s clear to me that medicine is different because of genomics. I trained as an HIV doctor, and when I look back at the beginning of my career, there was nothing for me to do other than support my patients as they were dying.” Pomeroy explains that at the beginning, she and her colleagues had no choice but to treat every patient with the same drug, even though some were suffering from resistant strains of the virus. “With genotyping, however, we were able to better understand the individual viruses and give patients drugs to help them respond. That changed everything.”

Pomeroy closed by reflecting on her own personal journey, having been raised in and out of foster care. “When you grow up in tough circumstances, that’s what forms core values. As leaders and scientists, we need to keep in mind core values, and for me, it’s about helping the vulnerable,” says Pomeroy. “I think that science and research are solutions to many of our social vulnerabilities. Science and evidence give us the potential to find answers to inequities. Know what your core values are and apply them every day.”