DR. ROBERT G. BEST is a medical geneticist and founding Fellow of the American College of Medical Genetics &
Genomics with extensive experience and achievements in medical education, clinical genetic services, and university faculty
governance. As dean for faculty affairs at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine, he is launching a new public
medical school. He lives in Greenville, South Carolina, with his wife and the youngest of his seven children.
other genes in our genome. Once tuned,
these cells have exacting specificity for the
unique molecular properties that define
the intruder so they can be neutralized and
destroyed. The dynamic ability of many
systems in our bodies to respond to whatever
the environment might throw at us produces
a resilience without which we might not
survive. This intrinsic capacity for change
at the ready is perhaps akin to the notion
of potential energy — a powerful force that
quietly waits to be placed into action.
Nature teaches us that change can both
save and destroy us. We have to know the
context in which change is occurring to
appreciate it as a threat or a resource. Peering
into the complex systems of genes and
genomes illustrates the potential for change
to destroy us and affirms our inclinations to
fear and resist at least some kinds of change.
That change is required to sustain us and
empower us to respond to both internal
needs and external threats teaches us that we
should embrace and appreciate change, and
perhaps that is true most of the time.
As thinking creatures, it falls to us
to decide how we should best respond
to change. We are uniquely capable of
anticipating the future; the place in which all
change takes place. We possess within us the
ability to consciously influence our feelings
and emotions even if that might require
overriding our natural reactions. Reflecting
on the power and beauty of change, the
danger and threat that change can introduce,
and dynamic forces that maintain balance in
so many natural systems, we see that things
are never at rest, even when they appear
obviously to be so. Nevertheless, we ourselves
can comfortably rest with an appreciation
for the ways in which change enables us to
flourish and thrive.
Very little remains without change except
that which is already past.