president and chief executive officer of The Jackson Laboratory, explored ways of improving the efficiency of translation by taking advantage of scale and logistics and by using effective management to guide research on the basis of outcomes and milestone achievements. David Huntsman, associate professor of medicine at the University of British Columbia, used cancer as an example of the potential—and complexity—of personalized medicine.
The costs of research and health care have risen, Liu said. Genomics, as a diagnostic tool, can be used as a systems optimizer, “where each diagnostic makes money by saving money for the system.” Companies have begun to think about their business models in different ways to design cost-saving solutions to health problems. Veracyte, Liu explained, develops molecular tests to examine fine needle aspirates from thyroid nodules to determine the likelihood that a tissue is benign. As a business model, this results in minimization of the need for unnecessary surgery for a complete thyroidectomy, reducing direct medical costs by more than $120 million per year (Li et al., 2011). Big science should include more efficient research processes and cost-effective outcomes, as opposed to just focusing on profit-generating ones, Liu said.
“My central premise is that our academic biomedical research enterprise is inefficient relative to the technologies that we have available today. We need a new mindset, and that mindset may be characterized by mission-oriented research,” Liu challenged. Mission-oriented research can be described as research driven by milestone accomplishments and focused on outcomes, he said. These goals can be accomplished by quality scientific managers who “execute with speed, flexibility … who can assemble functional teams quickly and disassemble them quickly … who can embrace powerful technologies and actually retire [out-of-date] technologies,” Liu said.
Liu provided examples of organizations that are using this new mindset to work together as teams to achieve common goals. The Genome Institute of Singapore, which Liu helped develop, supports those with diverse skills to engage in collective decision making around the topics chosen for research through the development of integrated platforms. The Janelia Farm Research Campus in Virginia, which opened in 2006 and is supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), is an example of an effort to provide scientific focus for long-term grand challenges in an environment which offers opportunities for cross-discipline collaboration (Waldrop, 2011). Using Bell Laboratories and other successful research models, HHMI created the Janelia Farm to combine particular areas of