29th June 2009
For “grant system” read “government funding”.
One major impediment, scientists agree, is the grant system itself. It has become a sort of jobs program, a way to keep research laboratories going year after year with the understanding that the focus will be on small projects unlikely to take significant steps toward curing cancer.
Jerry Pournelle’s Iron Law of Bureaucracy strikes again.
The institute’s reviewers choose such projects because, with too little money to finance most proposals, they are timid about taking chances on ones that might not succeed. The problem, Dr. Young and others say, is that projects that could make a major difference in cancer prevention and treatment are all too often crowded out because they are too uncertain. In fact, it has become lore among cancer researchers that some game-changing discoveries involved projects deemed too unlikely to succeed and were therefore denied federal grants, forcing researchers to struggle mightily to continue.
Your tax dollars at work, so to speak.
In other words, had we been depending on the government to support the necessary research, large numbers of women would be dead now. Private money (of the worst kind: corporate money) came to the rescue.