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Senior Research Scientist Speaks Out

Senior scientists involved in medical research are speaking out about a key financial aspect, and the pressure placed on them to blur the distinction between “basic” science research – that does not make any claim to be relevant for humans – and “applied” research that is funded on the premise that it will lead to cures for human disease i.e will lead to “clinical translation”. Senior investigator and Director of Research of the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute, Dr Jim Woodgett comments on this, following an article in Nature (5th comment down):

When we publish our studies in mouse models, we are encouraged to extrapolate to human relevance. This is almost a requirement of some funding agencies and certainly a pressure from the press in reporting research progress. When will this enter the clinic? The problem is an obvious one. If the scientific (most notably, biomedical community) does not take ownership of the problem, then we will be held to account. If we break the “contract” with the funders (a.k.a. tax payers), we will lose not only credibility but also funding. Dr Woodgett concludes his comment with the following: Building only on solid foundations was a principle understood by the ancient Greeks and Egyptians yet we are building castles on the equivalent of swampland. No wonder clinical translation fails so often.

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