How about a crash program in basic immunological research?

Michael Holloway mhollowa at ic.sunysb.edu
Sat Apr 10 21:51:40 EST 1993


In article <noringC58C0w.8K7 at netcom.com> noring at netcom.com (Jon Noring) writes:
>
>And it seems to me that most of these ailments and diseases could be cured 
>(and I'll maintain a loose definition of the word "cured") if only medical
>science *fully* understood the very complex workings of the human immune
>system.  (A lot is known, but it seems to me a lot is still unknown.)
>
>Thus, it seems to me that setting up an immense international research program
>with the goal of fully understanding the human immune system, would be a good
>idea.

It seems that your concerns have more to do with clinical applications than
with basic research.  Basic research doesn't often address specific disease 
states very well.  Yet the basic research is usually (not always) the 
necessary clue for clinical application.  It's difficult, sometimes impossible,
to predict what piece of information you'll need.  The Human Genome Project,
for instance, *IS* a Big Science project that could lead to a "full 
understanding of the immune system".  Will the Human Genome Project itself
develop cures for diseases?  Absolutely not.

As you're discussing the creation of a Big Science project, basic research
is being gutted.  Every year funding of basic research gets tighter and this
year there'll be a double whammy.  Not only is the Clinton administration
cutting the budgets of both the NSF and NIH but they are also emphasizing 
"applications" of research, which means less money going to basic research.
Add to this a disheartening increase in Congressional pork barreling and 
interference with the peer review process on which basic science funding 
depends and ... well I'm not very hopeful for the future.

Mike



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