Tangential Thoughts: Controversy about Academia and How it May Slow the Search for Cures

A Newsweek article is making waves. The author Sharon Begley asserts that academia and organized science essentially slow down the path from basic science to a meaningful “cure”. One of her major arguments is that academic science emphasizes basic science and novel discoveries at the expense of research around patient treatments. That explains why this article even sparked the interest of the CTSA. The solution that Sharon Begley offers? – “a powerful director who can get beyond the rhetoric about moving discoveries out of the lab and make it a reality.” In her view “that hasn’t happened yet, six years after a much-ballyhooed NIH ‘road map’ declared such bench-to-bedside research a priority and vowed to reward risk-taking, innovative studies, not the same old incremental research that has produced too few cures.”

But there seems to be disagreement. An interesting blog post comments on this article and provides interesting insights from a researcher’s perspective: “Begley’s criticisms rely on some anecdotal stories from researchers, who either had a hard time getting their research funded, or found their translational research being published in ‘less prestigious’ journals than their or others more basic science research. But there’s no evidence that this is a system-wide phenomena – indeed, I’d counter with my own anecdotes that translational research is currently the new golden child of the area of science I’m exposed to,…”