Renowned doctor, engineer, scientist, and professor Dr. Elazer Edelman emphasized the need for community in scientific innovation as he gave the Fall 2022
Presidential Lecture at Utah Valley University on Nov. 17.
“Schools like this play a pivotal role in making our world safer and better,” Dr.
Edelman said. “Engineering, sciences, and technology actually have a moral obligation
to community. This university really has adhered to that mantra. It’s in your vision
statement, it’s in your mission statement — it’s leveraging all that we know to push
the boundaries of knowledge so we make the world a better place.”
Over the course of his remarks, Dr. Edelman used the history of the study of cardiology
as an example of the ways that technology can facilitate and create applications for
scientific innovation, thereby improving lives.
Edelman pointed to Leonardo da Vinci’s estimates on the amount of blood in the human
body, William Harvey’s discoveries on the nature of the circulatory system, and William
Heberden’s writings on angina pectoris (chest pain) as foundational, but theoretical
— not until technology such as the electrocardiogram and the X-ray were invented could
this knowledge be effectively put into application.
Edelman also mentioned that the initial work on these two technologies was published
without patents, as their creators considered the work too important not to be shared.
“Had it not been for these two technologies, all the science would have stayed by
the wayside,” Edelman said.
Mortality rates from cardiovascular diseases, he said, have dropped more than 4.5
times in the last six decades. That was largely made possible by the combination of
engineering, science, and technology in service of the community.
As he described some of the advancements he had personally been involved in, Dr. Edelman
showed a posed photo of himself and a number of medical students, mimicking a painting of Rene Laennec, the inventor of the stethoscope. In introducing his invention to skeptical clinicians
and patients, Laennec wrote two books totaling 777 pages — 70 of those pages described
the technology itself, and the other 707 described what could be learned from the
“We have an obligation to bring communities together,” Dr. Edelman said.
“All of you are going to make this world a better place by bringing all of those elements
together,” Dr. Edelman told the UVU students listening. “That’s the message I wanted
to convey. That’s what I wanted to tell you. My hope is that it won’t take 500 years
for things we learn today to make this a better place.”
At the conclusion of his remarks, Dr. Edelman answered several questions from the
audience, covering topics including the role of artificial intelligence in future
scientific discovery, the process by which medical technologies are approved and implemented,
and what the United States and the world have learned from the COVID-19 pandemic.
After the question and answer session, UVU President Astrid S. Tuminez announced that
the Spring 2023 Presidential Lecture will be held next February, featuring bestselling
author Whitney Johnson.
Watch the full lecture below.