'Back To Basics': Huffpost Article Reviews Essential Building Blocks of Research & Discovery

'Back To Basics': Huffpost Article Reviews Essential Building Blocks of Research & Discovery

11.01.12 | By Kaelan Hollon

Dr. William Talman, a neurologist at the University of Iowa, drafted a Huffington Post article yesterday called "Back To Basics", and it's worth a read. Given that it's been decades since I've reviewed it, at first it was a bit easy to dismiss the scientific method as a blog premise, but Dr. Talman takes a fresh look at exactly how the rigors of a laboriously logical method can lead to medical breakthroughs and further argues why this research should be well-funded as a means of protecting public health. From his post:

"If you are not convinced of the value of the scientific process to your own health and the quality of funded research that led to better health, let's look at a little history. In the 1970s, when confronted with a child who had acute lymphocytic leukemia, physicians basically had to await the child's death. There was simply nothing we could do, but basic scientific study that had been progressing for years was leading to an understanding of the steps and mechanisms of cell division. Recognizing those steps allowed clinical investigators to apply that knowledge to new drugs that attacked malignant cells (in this case leukemia cells) when they were most vulnerable. As a result, we have gone from having acute lymphocytic leukemia be a death sentence to our expecting a cure for children confronted with it in the 21st century.

Think further about heart attack and stroke, both caused by clots that clog arteries and cut off vital blood flow to the heart and brain respectively. Again in the 1970s we were faced with having to deal with the aftermath of damage to either organ, and people, if they survived, were often left with not only damaged organs but damaged lives, restricted in what they could do or simply unable to do many things that we all take for granted. Imagine being forever unable to move a side of your body or being unable to speak to or understand your loved ones, and you will feel the plight of the stroke patient of the 1970s. But dramatic changes were on the horizon. Because of basic scientific studies into ways blood clots evolve, new therapies arose to attack clots where they formed so that many patients can now be treated before the heart or brain has become irreparably damaged. I have personally taken care of stroke patients who have received these "wonder" drugs that opened blocked vessels and turned a person, who came to the hospital unable to move or speak, into a normally functioning individual." It's a longish read, but articulate in its defense of the research process and its incremental victories.

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