5 Research Lessons from Academia

5 Research Lessons from Academia

By Ellie Dahoney

by Caitlin Klask and Elie Dahoney

Washington: the center of spiraling health spending. Health care is out of control. It’s a topic on everyone’s mind lately. But how do we cut spending on our country’s physical well being?

It starts by recognizing a flawed system. Americans are living with disabilities and dying young, even though we have the potential to change it all. It just takes a shift of focus.

Medical innovation spans from federal agencies like the Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health to the independent research institutes around the country making serious change. But an interesting idea to consider – and a possible solution to the country’s health care spending problem – could be the novel technologies and research coming from universities and academic health centers. Here’s how:

  1. Health care spending will soon be unsustainable. Alzheimer’s disease will eventually cost over $1 trillion yearly. And while research towards cancer, diabetes and Parkinson’s is stagnant – the NIH reported that purchasing power is down 22 percent this decade – these costly diseases are ever-present. It’s time for a shift from costly government spending to the minds of academia.
  2. It’s the perfect time for a third party to jump into the R&D game: According to a recent Research!America analysis, funding for R&D sectors in the entire United States declined by more than $4 billion from 2010 to 2011, despite increased investments in basic research in China and japan. With its consistently top-ranked universities, the United States could take an early lead.
  3. Polling shows that Americans would pay more taxes if they knew those taxes were going to medical research.
  4. Prescription drugs currently account for 10 percent of health care costs, but continued R&D on the next generation of pharmaceuticals can help bend or even break the cost curve for a host of diseases and conditions.
  5. Sequestration interrupts government-funded medical innovation. But there are other forms of innovation, like those in research labs at universities.

Beyond the cost and the process, this issue hits home: it’s about the quality of our lives and the health and welfare of our children. Where do you think we’ll find the cure for cancer? Could academia take the floor with medical innovation, or will the government step in with more funding for research and development? Leave your comments below!

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