Last week, according to Der Standard, Josef Penninger made this statement in Vienna:
“I say: Science has developed to such a degree that people have to take us absolutely seriously. We live in the age of genetic revolution and the development of new technologies that fundamentally change our lives, our industries and the way we live together….
“I am convinced that society can learn a lot from science: one of our key principles is to be open to new things, to discuss opposing viewpoints and make sensible decisions based on these discussions and on substantiated knowledge – even if those decisions are unpopular. Science conveys methods for solving problems and not believing everything one is told, but critically examining apparent facts. Are these qualities not the basis for democracy and a tolerant society in which one can have different opinions and be respected nonetheless?”
In 2001, Mary Rogan wrote an article about Josef Penninger in Esquire. This is the beginning:
“‘The Greatest Scientist of Our Time’ worries about you every day. He worries about the diseases lurking in your genes, the ache in your bones, the viruses sneaking up on your heart. And he worries about your soul, too. He worries whether you have one, and he worries about what you’re going to do with it. But he’s working while he’s worrying. He’s finding the genes that will make your bones feel good again, he’s flipping the switch for your immune system, and he’s hunting down the virus that is going to murder your heart. And he’s getting closer, every day, to discovering the gene that will rock your world.
“Josef Penninger may well save your life someday, but he’ll still wish he could have touched your soul. When he wins the Nobel prize for discovering God, he’ll feel his own troubled soul pounding away inside him, nestled between his heart and his thymus, protected by an army of T cells. But that’s a long bicycle ride from here. Right now, he’s just getting started.”
Josef Penninger, the son of Austrian farmers, worked as a lead researcher at the Amgen Research Institute in Toronto, affiliated with the University of Toronto and the Ontario Cancer Institute. In 2002, at the age of thirty-eight, he accepted the appointment as director of the newly established Institute of Molecular Biotechnology of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, and moved back to Vienna.