Exemplary social science research-such as the European "Whitehall Study" and a recent, 25-year followup report-should serve as a model for researchers seeking to advance human welfare world-wide through improved medical care, Bloom said. Socially focused research such as the U.K.-based Whitehall Study, which investigated correlations between education, status level in the British Civil Service and health outcomes, promise far more immediate advances than the widely anticipated transition to genomics-based health care, he added.
As the world's largest general scientific society, AAAS will seek to help define the requirements for a U.S. national commission, and call upon the President and the Congress to create it, Bloom told attendees at the meeting.
The American health system faces an array of crises, said Bloom, chair of the Department of Neuropharmacology at the Scripps Research Institute of La Jolla, California, and former editor-in-chief of the AAAS journal, Science. Among the urgent problems now confronting the U.S. health system, Bloom cited soaring health-insurance premiums; personnel shortages in some specialties; the constraints of managed health care; paperwork burdens; and archaic information-management methods. At the same time: "The threat of war, and the imposition of mass casualties from any new acts of terrorism could prove calamitous for the U.S. medical community's ability to care for the ill."
Medical-liability reform legislation-proposed 16 January by U.S. President George W. Bush as a step toward making health care more affordable and accessible-is "laudable, but insufficient," according to Bloom, co-editor of