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Money and Methods in Cancer Research

CAT scans on a lightboxThe National Cancer Institute funds a lot of important research aimed at treating cancer, but some experts would characterize very little of it as transformative work. Gina Kolata’s article in the Sunday New York Times describes a system geared towards incrementalism rather than high-risk, high-return science.

But a dearth of transformative work isn’t the only thing missing from the biomedical system in the United States. As Merrill Goozner reported here on Science Progress, there’s a lack of data-driven clinical trials that compare what works with what doesn’t.

Of course, the question of how to develop better cancer treatment’s isn’t either-or. We need both more transformative research and more evidence-based medicine. But as funding for the National Institutes of Health increases, a re-think of the grant review process will be necessary to get resources to promising but untried ideas and to the younger generation of scientists.

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