Sure, Francis Collins is likely going to be the next head of the US National Institutes of Health. But is he famous? A new ad campaign called the Rock Stars of Science is trying to bring a little celebrity to the sciences by picturing famous researchers together with rock stars. (In case you can’t recognize him behind those cool shades: that’s Collins to the right of Joe Perry. And for those of you who have no idea who Joe Perry is: he’s the guy with the striped hair to the left of Collins.)
The campaign launched with a 6-page photo portfolio in GQ magazine. “It’s like being in the middle of a genius sandwich”, the ad quotes Josh Groban, apparently a singer of some sort, who was pictured between UCLA neurologist Jeffrey Cummings and Elan Corp’s chief scientific officer, Dale Schenk.
Musical ability was not a prerequisite to participate in the campaign, at least not for the scientists. One scientific rock star – cardiologist Eric Topol of The Scripps Research Institute — told theheart.org: “I was asked to leave the band in ninth grade and take a study hall because my clarinet playing was so pathetic.” And participants evidently weren’t given much choice about their wardrobe: “I was the only scientist that ended up in tennis shoes and barefoot, but what can you do?” lamented Schenk to The Scientist. (Personally, I think NIAID director Anthony Fauci looks quite dapper in his white “cool and dry” “cotton-rich” button-down shirt, available for $49.95 at Macy’s.)
It’s all for a good cause of course: the ad campaign aims to highlight the importance of biomedical research and the need for science funding. Medscape Medical News notes that the campaign hopes to fight the social forces behind a recent survey which found that only 4% of Americans could name a living scientist and – prepare to be shocked – that Britney Spears is more influential than Stephen Hawking. Yeah. Good luck with that.
Images: Geoffrey Beene/GQ