The dedicated efforts of individuals working throughout
the cycle of biomedical research (see Figure 9, p. 49) have
led to extraordinary advances across the continuum of
clinical care that are improving and saving lives in the
United States and worldwide.
Biomedical research is an iterative cycle, with each
discovery building on knowledge gained from prior
discoveries (see Figure 9, p. 49). In recent years, the cycle
has become more efficient as the pace of discoveries has
increased, and new disciplines have been integrated
into the biomedical research enterprise (see sidebar on
Biomedical Research: What It Is and Who Conducts It, p.
50). As a result of these changes, the pace at which research
improves lives, like the lives of Harrison McKinion and his
family (see p. 52), has accelerated. It is anticipated that
this rapid pace of progress will continue or speed up even
more in the foreseeable future (see Anticipating Future
Progress, p. 100).
The biomedical research cycle is set in motion when
discoveries with the potential to affect the practice of
medicine and public health are made by researchers in any
area of biomedical research, including laboratory research,
population research, clinical research, and clinical practice.
The discoveries lead to questions, or hypotheses, which are
• From Aug. 1, 2015, to July 31, 2016, the FDA approved 13 new therapeutic agents for treating
tested by researchers conducting studies in a wide array of
models, ranging from single cells and tissues from animals
and/or humans to whole animals, individuals, and entire
populations. The results from these experiments can lead
to the identification of a potential therapeutic target or
preventive intervention, they can feed back into the cycle
by providing ne w discoveries that lead to more hypotheses,
or they can affect the practice of medicine in other ways,
for example, by allowing for more precise classification
of a patient’s disease, which has the potential to influence
treatment decisions (see sidebar on Reclassification of
Brain Tumors, p. 51).
certain types of cancer, one new cancer screening test, one new diagnostic test,
• During the same period, the FDA authorized new uses for 11 previously
approved anticancer therapeutics.
• Different immunotherapeutics work in different ways to unleash the power
of a patient’s immune system to fight cancer.
• Palliative care, given alongside cancer treatment and through the balance of life,
can improve quality of life for patients and survivors.
In this section you will learn:
When cancer patients and their
families consent to share their
tissues and information, the pace
at which new advances are made