One of my favorite inspirational quotes is Basil King’s “Be bold and might forces will come to your aid,” though I have to admit I first heard it uttered by the strong and sympathetic mother Frances McDormand in Cameron Crowe’s movie Almost Famous.
It is a great sentiment, inspiring, and hopeful. It is the belief that a dramatic act will not be in vain, that some how, somewhere the universe will not abandon you.
So when I read in the recent Boston Globe article by Liz Kowalczyk, “NIH Funds Local Teams for Daring Research,” I was heartened to learn that somebody at NIH concurred with my thinking.
NIH has recently launched a $483 million initiative “to support daring, difficult research that has the potential to solve intractable medical problems and transform patient care.” The first round of funding has gone to nine teams nationwide, with teams receiving between $21 and $25 million.
As Kowalczyk correctly points out “NIH traditionally awards most research grants - typically about $250,000 each - to individual doctors and scientists whose work has a high likelihood of success. But hoping to turn a new page on how research is done, the agency has set aside 1.7 percent of its budget in a sort of venture capital fund for large, multidisciplinary projects that are riskier but have a huge potential payoff.”
One Boston based research group intends to explore daring and difficult research as it attempts to grow heart valves, parts of a pancreas, and a tooth. Another research group hopes to improve the drug discovery process utilizing the data from genes being linked to human diseases in an effort to identify potential treatments. These projects will bring together scientists from different fields to tackle issues that have been resistant to traditional approaches. In the case of the organ project, the team includes a cardiac surgeon, two mathematicians, computer specialists, and tissue engineers.
As Dr. Alan Krensky, Director, Office of Portfolio Analysis and Strategic Initiatives NIH, which is funding the project says, “This is knock-your-socks off science.”
Who knows if the grant awardees are going to be successful? Who knows what new knowledge will be derived from their research? What is known is that we have to continue to think this way when it comes to medical research. We have to be willing to try approaches that haven’t been tried before. We need to be able to think differently about what will and won’t work. We need to be open to fail in our pursuit for cures, for with each failure more is learned
We need to be bold, and who knows what mighty forces will come to our aide.
Patrick Morris, Vice President of External Relations and Communications, FasterCures
Patrick joined the FasterCures in October of 2006. Patrick has over eighteen years of government and communication experience, at both the federal and local level. He has worked in both chambers on Capitol Hill, serving as Press Secretary to Wisconsin Senator Herb Kohl and as Communications Director to Oregon Congressman David Wu.
To read the Boston Globe please visit: boston.com/news/local/articles/2007/09/06/nih_funds_local_teams_for_daring_research