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What do we need to know?
Nat Heiner, Alum
Graduate School of Arts and Sciences 1975
Graduate School of Arts and Sciences 1974
Columbia College 1972

A panel of Columbia experts is addressing this question today. Here is a simple question that may trump all others: what is the probability of H5N1 mutating the way H1N1 mutated in the early 20th century? We simply do not know. We need to fund the science that will get us closer to a reliable answer to this critical question. If we do not have the science necessary to assess the probability, each passing year will cause Americans to grow more complacent; this in turn will cause their elected representatives to turn away from funding the scientific work necessary to understand our risk and to prepare accordingly. We can manage our lives by guesswork and wishful thinking, or we can do the hard science. With our children's lives at stake, what question could be more important?

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