Lab-coat warriors

There’s less than a week to go until the electorate of Scotland vote as to whether Scotland should be an independent country, with its own government and new international borders. After spending some of last week in England at the UK Pharm Sci conference I can see that people are passionate on both sides of the border, and for both referendum outcomes. It’s a big deal and people are rightfully worried, excited, concerned…and sometimes angry. I was up into the wee small hours last night ‘contributing’ to an online discussion!

The Scottish Nationalist Party use as their anthem ‘Scot Wha Hae‘, and as with a lot of popular traditional folk songs it harks back to old, very old, battles between the Scottish and English nations. While I prefer the little known song ‘Scotland will Flourish‘, Scots Wha Hae (with some very small lyric changes) is still relevant today.

Robbie Burn’s wrote the poem in the 1790’s as ‘Bruce’s Address’ to the troops at Battle of Bannockburn. On the 700th anniversary of that battle I posted this:

Scot’s wha’ hae wi’ Wallace bleed…

On the 23rd and 24th of June 700 years ago the army of Scotland under Robert the Bruce won the Battle of Bannockburn against an invading army superior in numbers and weaponry. So today I’m wearing my kilt, not to remember the defeat of the English, who in the 21st century are our neighbours, friends and family, but to remember the battles Scotland still faces against poverty, unemployment, short life expectancy, poor health, violence, alcohol and drug addiction.

By your sons in servile chains.
We will drain our dearest veins.
But they shall be free.

In science we still fight: lab-coat warriors! The servile chains for the generations ahead, of all nationalities, are cancer, antibiotic resistance, climate change, heart disease (one of the biggest killers), diarrhea (another big killer), SARs, Ebola….the list could go on and on. Governments come and go, they rise and fall. These killers will stay unless we defeat them. It not going to be easy, and as I mentioned in the ‘Sympathy…’ review, very few of those who have gone before us have seen breakthrough, most they have gone to their ‘gory beds’ seeing very little, or nothing.

The battles we face now are not against certain nations but against certain natures. In a few days Scotland’s borders might change but the frontiers of science will still need pushing back…


Many thanks to Michelle for pre-publication review of this post!!


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