At its essence, science is about two things: seeing and knowing.

Many of the tools of the trade—microscopes, telescopes, spectroscopes, and so on—end with a suffix derived from the Greek word skopein, meaning “to look.” The word “science” itself stems from the Latin word scire, meaning “to know.” Together, these are the driving forces of science: to see so that we can know.

In this issue of Scripps Research Magazine, you will encounter stories from our quest to better observe and understand our world so that we can improve the lives of people around the globe. 

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A significant problem in biology is visualizing the tiniest building blocks of life. Rising to the challenge, Scripps Research scientists are capturing some of the first images of molecules
that keep the human body healthy. In one example of this, you’ll read how researchers on our Florida campus used cryogenic electron microscopy to capture the first images of the protein metavinculin, which plays a critical role in heart function.

Another challenge is observing phenomena that are in constant flux, such as human heart rhythms. At this moment, you may be wearing a Fitbit, Apple Watch or other wearable device that records your heartbeat, sleep schedule, physical activity or even your blood pressure. You’ll learn how Scripps Research Translational Institute is leveraging these emerging technologies to help usher in a new era of digital medicine.

This issue also explores the concept of perspective—the different points of view from which one can see things. Oftentimes, approaching a problem from a new direction, one overlooked by others, can pave the way to an innovative solution. At Scripps Research, we are committed to attracting and empowering a diverse array of students, staff and faculty, and here we highlight some of our efforts to support the careers and educations of women in science.

Lastly, one thing scientists see far too often—I speak from personal experience—is bewildered looks on other people’s faces. With that in mind, Scripps Research has partnered with Alan Alda, the iconic actor, science advocate and author of the book “If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look On My Face?” to offer science communications workshops on our La Jolla campus.

It is critical that we scientists communicate the excitement and impact of our work to the rest of the world. Our partnership with Alan Communications Training, outlined in these pages, will help us do a better job at this vital aspect of science.

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Peter Schultz, PhD
President and CEO, Scripps Research