Epidemiology, Austerity, and Innovation

Samet, Jonathan M.; Ness, Roberta B.
May 2012
American Journal of Epidemiology;May2012, Vol. 175 Issue 10, p975
Academic Journal
In considering the state of epidemiologic research, these are the “best” and the “worst” of times—the “best” from the perspective of scientific opportunities and the “worst” from the perspective of funding. In this commentary, the authors address this time of funding austerity from the points of view of individual researchers and research institutions. For researchers, the new tools of “-omics,” large databases, communication by means of the World Wide Web, and global access offer ever-expanding scientific opportunities. The authors comment on research directions for which there is an enhanced likelihood of funding success: clinical and translational research, outcomes and effectiveness research, and global health research. The authors emphasize the need to be innovative and not bound by the conventional. For institutions, the authors suggest attention to innovation and impact, social networking, and finding the “right size” for training programs. Academic institutions also need to invest, supporting researchers and their ideas. Epidemiologists need to be true to their mission and prove that they can use innovation to advance health and welfare in a measurable way. Doing so will ensure that over the long term, epidemiologic research will remain a cornerstone for advancing population health.


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