Posted on by Dr. Sally Rockey and Dr. Francis Collins
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” Until recently, we’d never have dreamed of mentioning the famous opening line of Charles Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities in the context of U.S. biomedical research. But now those words ring all too true.
The “best of times” reflects the amazing technological advances and unprecedented scientific opportunities that exist right now. We’ve never had a better chance to make rapid progress in preventing, diagnosing, and curing human disease. But the “worst of times” is the other reality: NIH’s ability to support vital research at more than 2,500 universities and organizations across the nation is reeling from a decline in funding that threatens our health, our economy, and our standing as the world leader in biomedical innovation.
Posted on by Dr. Francis Collins
How does aspirin protect against cancer? How does obesity increase the risk of cancer? What genetic, epigenetic, biologic, behavioral, or environmental factors enable some people with highly lethal cancers to survive beyond expectation?
These are just a few perplexing issues that were chosen as part of the Provocative Questions Initiative of the National Cancer Institute (NCI), one of the 27 Institutes and Centers that make up the NIH . The initiative was launched to identify questions or problems about cancer that, for whatever reason, have been neglected in the past. The hope was that by crowdsourcing across the entire research community, the most important questions would be identified — potentially yielding game-changing advances in preventing, diagnosing, and treating all forms of cancer.
Although cancer rates are declining about 1% per year , cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States, surpassed only by heart disease. In 2009, 567,614 people died from some form of cancer—1,555 people every day. We’ve been waging war on this disease for decades now. But we now have the tools to address many more questions.