From research and development to newer scientific explorations – the outcome of medical research has far reaching effects on society. Whether it is exploration of a new gene, an evolving disease or virus, a breakthrough in treatment or therapy for fatal illnesses or evolution of advanced medical instruments – these assessments into the unknown alleys of medicine, environment and the human body is producing tremendous results for the betterment of society.
While most endeavours in medical science have been applauded, a number of methods in testing and research have raised pertinent doubts as well. Funding for example, for long-drawn research initiatives - whether they are from the government or through charitable donations - have often been questioned, more specifically due to the pressing question about the outcome or effect of the research.
The problem with medical research is that there is no formula to evaluate impact – success is gauged through trial and error, and which is usually time-consuming. For governments and society at large the success of a research is however exclusively based on its impact on mortality and morbidity. For instance, some recent forays into study of cardiovascular-related medical interventions show the time gap between original, key research and tangible results on health was at least 17 years.
Despite these hiccups, the exceptional value that medical research has had on society cannot be doubted. Discoveries made in the domain of medicine have made lives simpler, and it has cleared the complex web of several unknown diseases. From the discovery of x-ray machines, to in-vitro fertilization and further into gene therapies and technological aids in medicine – the ever new and ever unknown frontiers of medicine are yet to be explored.
Moral and humanitarian questions have however often been raised from several quarters, including governments and humanitarian agencies, on various forms of research – vis-à-vis use of animals for testing; gauging the efficacy of new and yet-unpatented drugs on the underprivileged in underdeveloped countries and the complex issue of patents for traditional and new discoveries.
Apart from the social, cultural and scientific impact of medical research, it has a huge bearing on economy as well. In the research chain are involved several key players, including governments, firms and the research organisation themselves. While the goal of any innovation initiative should be on health, medical learning and additional benefits to society – often these are guided by purely profit and business motives; and that’s where medical research begins to tread a rather fragile ground.