Type 1 Diabetes Research Infrastructure: A Tangled Web
Late last Friday, we published our newest report “Type 1 Diabetes Research Infrastructure in the United States“. We encourage you to read the report, as there are some shocking findings within, and this blog will be an examination why this infrastructure is such a tangled web. We wanted to investigate other ways money finds it’s way to research projects and how it’s divided up once Universities get a hold of funding. What we discovered was really quite upsetting–most scientific research is obfuscated to the point that very little can get done.
The factors are two-fold. One is the fact that scientists are encouraged to keep information from others. This makes sense when you don’t consider the big picture–funding, prestige, and the ability to move onto a new project are determined by what you’re doing and how successful it is. Bottom line: If you created the cure for cancer, you would be set for life, with the ability to do whatever research you wanted. Conversely, by hiding what you’re working on there is a lessened risk of somebody leapfrogging ahead of you and completing your project.
The other factor is with the universities themselves, who would like nothing better than to tout that a major scientific breakthrough burst forth from their halls, and in-turn will do anything to keep what their researchers are working on a secret. It’s the kind of thing that drives admission and keeps funding rolling in, and it’s in their interest to keep their cards close to their chest to ensure this.
The unfortunate truth is that this is an incredibly broken, confusing, fragmented, and all-together unwieldy system. For instance, many scientists are working on extremely similar projects–ones that would effectively cancel each other out, and would all be ended if one of them got to the finish line first. Would it not make more sense for these scientists to collaborate their resources and intellect on ONE project? Would that not accomplish everything that much faster? Could they not all still get the credit for leading a major breakthrough discovery?
The climate right now creates competition completely absent of collaboration, and as anyone whose lived long enough can tell you, many people working together for one collective goal gets us there faster than everyone heading in different directions. Please, take a look at the report, and leave any comments you have below or on facebook.