Basic research is good for your health

Basic science doesn’t have the cache of disease-focused research. It’s hard to write catchy headlines about impending disease therapies, for example, when the researchers are just trying to understand how cells work. But, as Barry Starr explains in a blog entry for the science program KQED Quest, it’s important stuff.

Starr is the Geneticist-in-Residence at The Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, CA, and he was writing specifically about the federal budget for basic research, but his writing also applies to CIRM’s programs. Our primary goal is finding new disease therapies, but we continue to fund the most basic research because it opens up new avenues to curing disease that we wouldn’t have known existed.

Starr writes:

Funding predominantly targeted research is like looking for your car keys only in lighted areas of the street. You are missing a whole lot places where the keys could be. Science is similar. Basic research is like adding new light posts—it opens up areas of research we didn’t even know we could explore.

He cites a few important examples of basic research discoveries that changed the course of therapy development, including one that led to a Nobel Prize.

Here’s a list of our basic biology awards that, in Starr’s terms, are building the new light posts in the search for therapies.


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