Many of us know cancer patients who are here today and gone within a matter of weeks. The New York Times recently ran a piece with some much needed insight as to why. All the millions of dollars raised at “Walk for the Cure” and “Relays for Life” are deposited into a large pot of grant research money, and one would like to believe that the money is being given to the most advanced, inventive ideas out there that could potentially cure cancer. Unfortunately, the truth is that the dough usually goes to small research projects that are pretty much useless and will have the slightest, if any, impact on finding the cure.
Financial backers like the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute don’t want to take risks on projects that may not garner definite answers. So, instead, they often give the money to projects like studying the relationship between responses to good-tasting foods and the ability to stay on a diet––clearly a project unlikely to cure cancer anytime soon. Since the system for awarding grants is so biased, more creative researchers often turn to independent philanthropists to fund their work. But with the sour economy, super rich folks just aren’t whipping out their checkbooks like they used to.
According to multiple scientists, most major discoveries come from researchers’ side work, which is not formally funded by the grants. Rather scientists put aside some of their grant money to work on other projects, which were not actually approved. It’s such a shame that scientists have to secretively hide money or come up with faux-research to make actual progress. The scientists interviewed believe it’s a broken system that can only be fixed if granters start taking risks. It’s almost sickening to know that the powers that be have not been funding the out-of-the-box ideas and are giving money to “no duh” studies. We need to get Oprah on this issue, ASAP.