Introducing Second Opinion

CULVER CITY-CA-MARCH 19, 2018: Dr. Patrick Soon Shiong is photographed.
Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, executive chairman of the Los Angeles Times.
(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

Dear Readers,

Today the Los Angeles Times is introducing Second Opinion, a new weekly op-ed column that aims to engage cutting-edge debates about the unprecedented global challenges that our society faces. The column, to be published weekly in the Opinion section of The Times, will feature contributions from thought leaders, scientists, diplomats, humanitarians, artists, economists and other experts who will offer their insights into these challenges, in an effort to identify solutions and actions to solve them.

To fight future pandemics, nations in Africa, the Middle East and Latin America will need to build vaccine development capacity to suit regional needs.

March 13, 2021

We take the column’s title from the world of medicine: When facing a life-or-death medical decision, the best advice is to seek a second opinion. As the events of the past few years have shown, conventional assumptions about the way things work — and even what makes us human — may be wrong. The dominant headlines rarely tell the whole story, let alone offer solutions to the biggest problems facing current and future generations.

As a scientist and physician, it strikes me that thoughtful debates matter now more than ever. Second Opinion will serve as a forum for exploring complex, important issues that affect us all. Through a roster of contributing thought leaders, we will offer alternative perspectives and creative approaches to making the world better.


I have long been inspired by the example of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., who said, “An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”

This is a mantra for our times. As we grapple with a global pandemic, racial and economic inequalities, a politically fractured nation, extreme climate events and a chronic lack of affordable housing in our community, we must challenge ourselves to think anew about the role each of us plays in our society. We must be open to cutting-edge solutions even if they have not been tried before — perhaps even more so if they have not been tried before. We must be encouraged by the knowledge that our humanity is our greatest asset.

Ultimately, our hope with Second Opinion is to offer our readers a window into the thought processes and ideas that lead to positive change.

Today’s column is by Peter Hotez, a global health expert, on COVID-19 vaccination in the developing world. Next week’s column is by Leroy Hood, a biologist, on new systemic approaches to wellness. A companion video series from L.A. Times Studios will also delve into these topics, offering a platform for our contributors to expand on their ideas. We hope you will join in the conversation.

With respect and gratitude,
Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong

Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong is the executive chairman of the Los Angeles Times and of ImmunityBio, which develops immunotherapies to defeat cancer and other diseases, and an adjunct professor of surgery at UCLA.