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October 30, 2009
Fifty Years of Scientific History For You
Here's a most interesting graph from the latest issue of Nature Reviews Drug Discovery. It's from an article on trying to discern trends from broad-scale literature analysis, and it's worth a separate blog post of its own (coming shortly). But after yesterday's discussion of whether there are too many graduates in science and engineering, this looked useful.
Note, for example, the ramp up in NIH funding in the late 1950s/ early 1960s (a very large change in percentage terms), which was followed by a similar surge in doctorates granted. The late-1990s funding increases seem to be having a similar effect near the end of the chart.
Note also the well-publicized drug drought - but the historical perspective is interesting. We've clearly fallen off the 1970-2000 trend line of increasing drug approvals, but we seem to be stabilizing at roughly a 1980s level. The argument is whether that's where we should be or not. We have all these new tools, but all these new worries. Lots of new targets, but fewer good ones like the old days. Many new tools, but plenty of difficult-to-interpret data generated from them. And so on. But 1985 is apparently about where the balance of all these things is putting us.
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