Bad News for Evidence-Based Medicine

July 11, 2011
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Bruce Booth, a venture capitalist explains the perils of investing in companies whose products are based on scientific discoveries published in academic journals.

Bruce Booth, a venture capitalist explains the perils of investing in companies whose products are based on scientific discoveries published in academic journals.

The unspoken rule is that at least 50% of the studies published even in top tier academic journals – Science, Nature, Cell, PNAS, etc… – can’t be repeated with the same conclusions by an industrial lab. In particular, key animal models often don’t reproduce.  This 50% failure rate isn’t a data free assertion: it’s backed up by dozens of experienced R&D professionals who’ve participated in the (re)testing of academic findings. This is a huge problem for translational research and one that won’t go away until we address it head on.

Competition for grants and careers that depend on published research often tempt academic researchers to manipulate their experiments. The data from these experiments are often sold to Biotech companies who try to commercialize the discovery made in academic laboratories. The biotech’s industrial scientists find they cannot reproduce the experiments and get the same results.