From 27 to 3

Michael Crow, the President of Arizona State University, has made a name for himself by reorganizing large research structures. At his home university, he has created thematic institutes that pay little heed to traditional disciplinary boundaries. In a piece published in Nature last month, he urges the NIH to do the same.

He begins his argument with a bleak account of the return on the U.S.’s investment in biomedical research. Despite leading the world in spending on science, average lifetimes have not increased. Francis Collins, the current head of the NIH, recognizes this disparity, too, and proposes greater investment in translational research.

Crow rejects that solution. He calls for a wholesale restructuring of the NIH. Instead of 27 different institutes and centers each devoted to a particular disease, why not have three that mimic the integration of research itself? They would focus on:

  1. biomedical systems research
  2. health outcomes
  3. health transformation

This way, researches could work together on the complex interactions between genes, environment, and culture that contribute to disease. Even Crow, however, recognizes how difficult it would be to revamp an entrenched system.


10 Responses to “From 27 to 3”

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