Is the pace of biomedical innovation slowing?

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The pace of biomedical innovation is important because it determines the rate of progress in medicine and allied disciplines. A review of the history of medical advances reveals that the three decades from 1950 to 1980 were a particularly innovative time. Subsequent decades have seen fewer seminal advances, despite continued improvements in many biomedical technologies. Although the biomedical sciences continue to be innovative, the question posed in this essay is whether the rate of innovation has slowed relative to the available knowledge base. The pace of innovation varies tremendously depending on the specific field considered. Overall, the pace of innovation may be slower than in the past, especially when measured against the biomedical knowledge base available today versus that available then. Ten factors are discussed that could be slowing biomedical innovation. If biomedical innovation is slowing, then restoring a faster pace would require the cooperation of government, industry and academia, for the problems are multifaceted and intertwined.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)584-593
Number of pages10
JournalPerspectives in Biology and Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Sep 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Issues, ethics and legal aspects
  • Health Policy
  • History and Philosophy of Science

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