Biomedical Research Rock Stars

Reading time: 5 – 8 minutes

A new public service campaign called the Rock Stars of Science (ROCK S.O.S.) features eleven of America’s leading biomedical research scientists appearing alongside rock stars such as Joe Perry, Sheryl Crow,, Seal and Josh Groban. The campaign is designed to increase public awareness of the researchers and their work while showcasing the need for increased science funding. Although biomedical research received additional funding earlier this year through the economic stimulus, continued investment is critical for the development of future advances. Indeed, just last year a report writing by a consortium of seven institutions warned that the flat funding of biomedical research was a threat to America’s health.


The innovative campaign to bring attention to research is the brainchild of Meryl Comer, president of the Geoffrey Beene Gives Back Alzheimer’s Initiative, a philanthropic wing of the Geoffrey Beene menswear label, which donates all its net profits to support medical and educational research and outreach. Rock Stars of Science launched with a 6-page photo spread in the June issue of GQ Magazine, the popular men’s fashion magazine.

The print ad campaign is supported by the website, which will include behind-the-sciences videos and profile the scientists, their teams and research institutions. Readers will also be able to nominate their own Rock Stars of Science and sign a declaration calling for more funding in science research.

Rock Stars of Science features some of the nation’s leading biomedical researchers in areas like cancer, HIV-AIDS, heart disease, alzheimer’s disease, genetics and personalized medicine. Scientists in the multi-page sponsored promotion include:


Geoffrey Beene sells strictly men’s clothing, so only male scientists were photographed for the campaign. Meryl Comer said that she hopes to photograph women for the “next round” of the campaign.

Rock Stars of Science was inspired by a public opinion survey conducted last year that found that nearly half of Americans couldn’t name Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking or any other current scientist as a science role model for today’s youth [2]. Only 4% could name a living scientist such as Hawking or Bill Nye. The survey, done on behalf of Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry and endorsed by the national organization, Research!America, found that the Public Loves Science But Ignores the Scientist. Indeed, 87% of U.S. adults agree they personally benefit from science every day. But when it comes to grasping science concepts, most admit they’re not sure they get it. Only one in four respondents feel they have a good understanding of science. Even worse, Americans are not impressed with how seriously America is taking science and the education children are receiving in science. In fact, 70% of Americans believe that America is not currently the world leader in science. Almost all U.S. adults agree that this is a detriment to our nation — 96% say it is important for the U.S. to be a leader in science education.

More about the survey “The State of Science in America”, including a fact sheet and methodology, can be found at

According to Dr. Francis S. Collins [1]:

Scientists like to tell ourselves that we are too busy to worry about image. But the reality is that our work only has a chance of making a difference if we build a much broader base of popular support for medical research than currently exists in this country. That has to include more public pressure for congressional funding of research and more commitment to developing scientific leadership for the next century.

Being a rock star is about the same amps, thunder, and art it’s always been, but these days a rock star can be anyone whose genius moves the crowd — whether they’re onstage or in the lab.


  1., Sheryl Crow, Seal, Joe Perry and Josh Grobin Shine a Spotlight on the Top Rock Stars of Science in GQ’s Campaign for Geoffrey Beene Gives Back. press release. 2009 May 25
  2. Einstein may outrank Britney Spears but survey shows science education needs help in United States. Museum of Science and Industry, 2008 Mar 20.
About the Author

Walter Jessen is a senior writer for Highlight HEALTH Media.