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Letter from the Editor

bridges vol. 36, December 2012 / Letter from the Editor

Dear Reader,

As 2012 comes to an end, it's my pleasure to present you with the 4th issue of our quarterly bridges for this year. In its 8th year of publication, bridges would not be possible without the commitment and dedication of so many people who give their time and share their knowledge with us. A heartfelt "Thank You!" to everyone who makes this publication possible, from external contributors, to the editorial team, to our interview partners who patiently answer questions – and of course to our readers, some 9000 people from 75 countries, who help us to live our vision of "building bridges of knowledge and expertise" not only across the Atlantic but worldwide, true to the motto that science is global and knows no borders.

Without a doubt, one of the foremost pioneers in living global science is IIASA, the Vienna-based Institute for Applied Systems Analysis. It was 40 years ago, in October 1972, that representatives of the Soviet Union, United States, and ten other countries from the Eastern and Western blocs met in London to sign the charter establishing the research institute. This was the culmination of six years' effort by US President Lyndon Johnson and USSR Premier Alexey Kosygin and marked the beginning of a remarkable project to use scientific cooperation to build bridges across the Cold War divide and to confront growing global problems on an international scale. Today, IIASA is sponsored by 20 National Member Organizations in Africa, Asia, Europe, Oceania, and the Americas, nations that represent almost 60 percent of the world's population. More than 3,000 scholars have spent part of their careers at IIASA, and close to 1500 alumni have taken part in IIASA's flagship program, the Young Scientists Summer Program.

On the occasion of IIASA's 40th Anniversary, a formidable conference brought together some 850 leaders from science, policy, business, and civil society at the Hofburg Palace in Vienna from October 24 to 26 (click here for the bridges special conference report), and it was also on the eve of this conference that one of our columnists for bridges, Norm Neureiter, himself a lifelong advocate for science diplomacy and for IIASA, was awarded the Austrian Cross of Honor for Science and Art 1st Class (click here to read Norm's acceptance speech) in recognition of his tireless bridgebuilding between the US and Austria. Thank you, and congratulations, Norm, for your wonderful work!

As always, bridges seeks to provide you with a broad platform of and various perspectives on transatlantic STI policy issues. A very special view is shared by Maria Handler in her article "50 Business Cards and a Suitcase Full of Perspectives." Maria, who is a science writer with the Austrian Press Agency, joined the OST and bridges for five weeks this fall as the inaugural bridges Fellow. The goal of the bridges Fellowship Program is to enable young science writers from Austria to spend some time in the US to gain experience and broaden their horizons about scientific research, science policy, and science journalism as it is done here, and to take with them new inspirations and insights – or perhaps 50 business cards and a suitcase full of new perspectives.

Other excellent articles in this issue include a comprehensive overview of the history and workings of the philanthropic system in US Higher Education, as described by Ursula Brustmann in "The Gift of Giving: Philanthropy in US Higher Education"; and the portrait of Austrian scientist Gerald Brandacher, whose gift to a person cannot be measured in money: He is part of Johns Hopkins' world-respected team of leading face and hand transplantation surgeons. The article "Introducing Gerald Brandacher: Saving Rings, Faces, and Lives" not only offers a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the fascinating cutting-edge science Brandacher conducts, but also shows the human side of his research and what his work means for his patients.

I hope you'll enjoy some of the "gifts" that this issue of bridges is sending to you – just in time for the beginning the holiday season – and I thank you for your continued readership.

With warmest holiday wishes,

Caroline Adenberger