Other Exceptional Opportunities

BRING (PURE) SCIENCE BACK TO CANCER RESEARCH

Breakthroughs happen at the level of pure science (=theory) but cancer research has degenerated into an entrepreneurial frenzy of technology-driven data collection. Pairing this expensive activity with inexpensive theory could boost progress.

What is the research problem

From its programs it seems as if the NCI believes that technology, data, data-sharing and data analytics suffice to bring new insights. But enamored with technology & data, we have abnegated theory which is indispensable to give meaning to data.

How will your solution make a difference

Theory based on first principles (not 'modeling') is cheap and by exposing the formal limits of cell killing could even improve therapy. Theory could catalyze entire fields of research, bringing meaning to the data that we collect in blind frenzy.

What is your proposed solution

Without theory in biology we would still collect specimen and build taxonomy but not understand evolution. In cancer research we eschew theory. The relentless progression of tumors demands an unifying theory. (Modeling is not theory, just mathematized phenomenology). The NCI needs the courage to promote theory without crying 'experimental validation' in the same breath. This is simple. And theory is inexpensive and can be invaluable.

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Idea No. 840