Can small institutes address some problems facing biomedical researchers?

Research output: Contribution to journalShort surveypeer-review

3 Scopus citations


At a time of historically low National Institutes of Health funding rates and many problems with the conduct of research (unfunded mandates, disgruntled reviewers, and rampant paranoia), there is a concern that biomedical research as a profession is waning in the United States (see "Rescuing US biomedical research from its systemic flaws" by Alberts and colleagues in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences). However, it is wonderful to discover something new and to tackle tough puzzles. If we could focus more of our effort on discussing scientific problems and doing research, then we could be more productive and perhaps happier. One potential solution is to focus efforts on small thematic institutes in the university structure that can provide a stimulating and supportive environment for innovation and exploration. With an open-lab concept, there are economies of scale that can diminish paperwork and costs, while providing greater access to state-of-the-art equipment. Merging multiple disciplines around a common theme can catalyze innovation, and this enables individuals to develop new concepts without giving up the credit they deserve, because it is usually clear who did the work. Small institutes do not solve larger systemic problems but rather enable collective efforts to address the noisome aspects of the system and foster an innovative community effort to address scientific problems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3267-3269
Number of pages3
JournalMolecular Biology of the Cell
Issue number21
StatePublished - Nov 1 2014
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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