We need to start looking at these complex problems as complex problems.
Although advances are made at a theoretical or laboratory level, they often fail when replicated in an animal or person. At the heart of this is the undisputable fact that the complexity of biological systems mean that solving one small part of the problem may work alone but not in the wider context of the system.
We need to reassess incentives for researchers and institutions to encourage truly collaborative research.
There are also challenges inherent in the research system. Researchers are recognized for being the first to make significant discoveries, and obtaining future funding by the individual or the organization is inherently linked to this status. This inhibits the sharing of data or discoveries between research centers. Although collaborations exist they are generally limited to a small number of like institutions.
We need to address the ability of publications to truly report results of research in a meaningful and interrogable way.
Publications often report results without the ability of readers to access the models behind the research, which in this field is critical to understanding and assessing the advance.
We need to reassess the mechanisms of data sharing and collection to allow compatibility and collaboration between institutions, and actively encourage this to happen.
Where data is the currency of this new system, it is frequently not able to be accessed by the broadest range of researchers either due to access practicalities or often due to a lack of consent by the patient for broader use.
We need to focus funding to rewarding for results rather than work.
Funding is often given to just one institution or group of researchers, based on reputation. This both misses the vast array of talent available and payment is given for work rather than a concrete result.
We need to maximize the input of patients in research.
Patients are the group that research can ultimately affect most significantly. Yet, they often are asked purely for defined information or participation in a research project. Research is often initiated from top down, defined by the research community, rather from bottom up. In this way, we can miss input from these disease or patient communities in defining the truly relevant questions to them, as well as missing out on a wealth of information that they could prospectively provide.