SIX DEGREES FROM SCIENCE A feature-length documentary film, now in production, and
supported by leading science and medical foundations and private funders

Will tenacious “next generation” scientists be able to navigate all the obstacles en route to their fascinating and life-changing discoveries?


What cures and treatments could they find if they stay in science?


What are we losing when they leave?

"Ebola virus Makona from West African Epidemic" by NIAID is licensed under CC BY 2.

(Left Image) Hazelnut (male flower), overlay of 7 channel autofluorescence microscopy" by ZEISS Microscopy is licensed under CC BY 2.0. (Right Image) Medical technicians working with bags of blood at Hanoi Blood Transfusion Center" by World Bank Photo Collection is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

SIX DEGREES FROM SCIENCE is a feature-length documentary immersing us in the lives of passionate biomedical scientists who work in environments where competition for resources is fierce, institutional barriers abound, and their focus is constantly directed away from science to survival.


The American “ivory tower” system is forcing promising researchers out of science and into other lines of work, damaging the pipeline of discovery and jeopardizing critical medical advances and future cures. Will these tenacious “next generation” scientists be able to navigate all the obstacles en route to their fascinating and life-changing discoveries? Or, should they fail, what is at stake for the rest of us?

The length of the average scientific career has gone from 35 years in the 1960s, to 5 years in 2018 in a range of scientific disciplines

PNAS Journal "Changing Demographics of Scientific Careers: The Rise of the Temporary Workforce"

Our Brightest Minds – Under Pressure

Most of us take medical breakthroughs for granted. When we think about medical research – if we think about it at all – we might picture people in white coats, working in state-of-the-art laboratories, focused intently on their own ideas and research. They’re making methodical progress toward new discoveries and technologies. Isn’t that how science works?


In fact, most scientists will never have this luxury – or operate in this comfort. Though many enter the field to find life-saving treatments and cures, systemic barriers are everywhere. Younger researchers (often people of color) are up against the old guard (often male and white) for ever-diminishing funding.


They endure bigotry and bias, receive comically low pay, and work very long hours. Scientists belonging to certain racial and ethnic groups, including African Americans, Latinx/Hispanics, and Native Americans, are twice as likely to leave the STEM disciplines as whites and Asian Americans.

"Neurons, confocal fluorescence microscopy" by ZEISS Microscopy is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Today’s scientists are expected to “publish or perish.” This pressure leads to overworked scientists  pursuing publication-generating experiments rather than following more exciting and innovative ideas that might not deliver quick results. It hinders creativity, and even the most devoted and mission-driven scientists face frustration and painful choices along the way.


Dwindling professional opportunities keep many stuck in a gridlocked career path with no upward mobility. The list of challenges goes on.


What will it mean for the future of medicine when so many different factors are pushing American scientists toward burnout? What groundbreaking discoveries will be lost along the way?

"State Public Health Laboratory in Exton Tests for COVID-19" by governortomwolf is licensed under CC BY 2.0 .

75% of researchers believe creativity is currently being stifled

Trust 2020 report on research culture

We Are Telling Their Stories

SIX DEGREES FROM SCIENCE is a feature-length documentary telling the story of three brilliant researchers, each poised to make a significant impact on the world. We’ll follow these young scientists after many grueling years of graduate school and postdoctoral work, as they take the leap of faith to launch their own labs and pursue their own research.

"Chemistry laboratory, University of Sydney" by Sydney Uni is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Our past films make it clear: complex topics are best explored using a character-driven, creative approach. We will intertwine individual experiences and personal milestones recorded with the main characters – all scientists – to create the narrative arc of the film. Personal stories filled with curiosity and unexpected humor will make science accessible to viewers, and give them heroes to root for all along the way. SIX DEGREES FROM SCIENCE will expose the sacrifices researchers must make, and the rewards we all will reap if they find success along the way.

The federal government's proportion of the US’s total R&D funding has decreased from 60% in the 1950s to only 20% in 2019, being replaced by for-profit business funding

Congressional Research Service "U.S. Research and Development Funding and Performance: Fact Sheet"

Up Close and Personal

We will film in cinema verite, a fly-on-the-wall approach to filmmaking. Our small film crew will embed in the lives of each of these charismatic people to capture moving and entertaining moments with colleagues, family, and friends. The trust we’re building with the primary characters behind the scenes will result in access to pivotal – and sometimes sensitive – moments. We will be there when they are experiencing funding challenges, and we will be there for the breakthroughs in the lab.


A small and nimble crew of no more than 2-3 people will help our characters forget the cameras are there, enabling them to reveal their true selves in these raw moments. At key times, we’ll pull in secondary characters with expertise to offer context and texture, and we’ll use animation and archival footage to illustrate concepts and clarify information.


While the issues the film will address are complicated, the joy of discovery and hope for breakthrough cures will remain a constant thread, woven through every chapter of the film. SIX DEGREES FROM SCIENCE will celebrate what’s possible when researchers have the freedom and resources to explore their most exciting ideas. This film will ask audiences to consider the stakes for human health if these bright minds are not supported.

"Immunology and Cell Biology Lab" by Sanofi Pasteur is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.