“Some seek knowledge for the sake of knowledge — and that is curiosity,” a French abbot wrote centuries ago. “Some seek knowledge that they may be known to have knowledge – and that is vanity. Some seek knowledge that they may give to others their knowledge — and that is charity.”
The wisdom of the quote is timeless. The greatest discoveries do more than add to our store of knowledge. They broaden understanding and lead the way to practical solutions for real-world problems. This is especially true in science, where the potential for improving lives is immense, and where the temptation to view the world from an abstract plane is sometimes equally as compelling.
Fortunately, there are many scientists who are working hard to bridge this gap, widely sharing new discoveries and bringing new technologies to the market quickly. In Ontario, Canada, microbiologist Hamza Mbareche is breaking through this knowledge barrier, applying his insights to help people, businesses and schools understand the risks of airborne pollution and take effective steps to mitigate them.
As a research scientist of bioaerosols, the microbiome, molecular biology, genomics and bioinformatics, Hamza Mbareche has studied the dangers of airborne particulates, microbes and toxins intensely, making at least 20 significant discoveries along the way. As the founder of Toronto-based Hamza Mbareche Consulting, he works in the trenches helping real people avoid these hazards, improving the health of communities by sharing knowledge — and clearing the air.
Like many scientists, he also believes it is important to tap into the resources and research base provided by major companies. The private sector is where some of today’s most significant discoveries are being made. Not surprisingly, the amount of time required to bring such research benefits to market is substantially shorter than that of discoveries originating in academic laboratories.
“Academic and industrial research share several similarities in terms of their goals, methodologies, and outcomes,” Hamza Mbareche explains. “Both types of research aim to generate new knowledge, develop innovative solutions, and improve the understanding of various fields of study. They both involve hypothesis testing, experimentation, data collection and analysis, and dissemination of results through publications and presentations.”
Academic and commercial research complement each other, Mbareche contends. “Academic research is often driven by scientific curiosity and aims to explore fundamental questions in a particular field. It can provide a foundation for further research and development in applied fields. Commercial research, by contrast, often draws upon fundamental research findings to develop new products, processes, or technologies that can have a significant impact on industry and society.”
He notes that academic research in biomedical sciences has contributed significantly to the development of new drugs, medical devices, and diagnostic tools in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. Conversely, industrial research has enabled the translation of basic research findings into real-world applications, such as the development of new cancer therapies or vaccines.
Research in academia and industry has helped improve the health of our planet by addressing environmental issues, such as air and water pollution, climate change, and habitat loss, says Mbareche. Research on renewable energy sources has led to the development of technologies like solar panels and wind turbines that can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and decrease dependence on fossil fuels.
“Overall, academic and industrial research are two sides of the same coin, with each type of research contributing to the advancement of knowledge and the betterment of society,” says Mbareche. “While they have distinct goals and approaches, they can work together to achieve common objectives and drive progress in various fields.”