Nav: Home

Data-driven approach could help improve allocation of biomedical research resources

September 15, 2015

A new computational model developed by scientists from the University of Chicago could help improve the allocation of U.S. biomedical research resources. The tool, called the Research Opportunity Index (ROI), measures disparities between resources dedicated to a disease and its relative burden on society. ROI identifies diseases that receive a disproportionate share of biomedical resources, which represent opportunities for high-impact investment or for the realignment of existing resources. It is designed to provide an unbiased, data-driven framework to help scientific and political communities assess resource investment and identify unmet medical needs. ROI is described in the August issue of Nature Biotechnology.

"The misalignment of resources in biomedical research could be likened to poor budgeting of household finances," said senior study author Andrey Rzhetsky, PhD, professor of genetic medicine and senior fellow at the Institute for Genomics and Systems Biology at the University of Chicago. "It would be bad to spend all your money on food, for example, and have nothing for rent. Resources are finite and attention to each problem ideally should be proportional to the need."

The biomedical research community is increasingly faced with difficult choices when it comes to allocating finite resources, both human and financial. Meanwhile, there are few unbiased methods to determine how to focus resources for the best return on investment.

Rzhetsky and his colleagues addressed this problem by creating a mathematical framework called a Research Opportunity Index (ROI). It estimates the societal burden of 1,400 medical conditions in the U.S. over a 12-year timespan, based on frequency of diagnosis and health care insurance costs, as well as research publications, awarded grants and clinical trials for each condition. The index then calculates misalignments, allowing the team to create an "investment portfolio" of the resources dedicated to each disease, relative to its burden on the U.S. health care system.

The team found that breast cancer, for example, stands out as a disease with higher dedicated resources than its relative societal burden. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Hashimoto's thyroiditis falls among the conditions with the most investment potential. The autoimmune disorder is the most common cause of hypothyroidism and occurs when the immune system attacks the thyroid gland, disrupting the body's balance of hormones. While it has nearly the same incidence among women as breast cancer, there were only 16 open clinical trials for Hashimoto's disease as of August 2015, according to a list on clinicaltrials.gov. Breast cancer had 2,205.

Rzhetsky and his colleagues acknowledge that the question of what makes a condition more deserving of funding than any other ailment is complex and multifaceted. But the team hopes this new tool can help the community decide on how best to allocate funds and other resources. By providing a framework based on unbiased quantitative analytics and big data, they hope to identify diseases that are high-impact and rewarding targets for additional investment.

"Some diseases stick in the public's attention," Rzhetsky said. "We have a distorted map of the frequency and importance of events from media and articles, and without special efforts to reconcile the reality, we are inherently biased."

The team are now working to incorporate other models of funding distribution into their index to account for additional variables. For example, the "trendy model," which supports investment for diseases with large emotional impact, suggests that even though this reduces funding for other diseases, there may still be benefits as basic science discoveries are added to the scientific and medical community.

"With the availability of more and more data analytics in health care, it's the right time to use data to direct the investments of drug discovery and biomedical research for the common good," said the study's first author, Lixia Yao, PhD, assistant professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
-end-
The study "Health ROI as a measure of misalignment in biomedical needs and resources" was funded by the US National Institutes of Health, GlaxoSmithKline Funds, and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte Research Grant. Additional authors include Ying Li, Soumitra Ghosh and James A Evans.

University of Chicago Medical Center

Related Breast Cancer Articles:

Breast cancer: AI predicts which pre-malignant breast lesions will progress to advanced cancer
New research at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, could help better determine which patients diagnosed with the pre-malignant breast cancer commonly as stage 0 are likely to progress to invasive breast cancer and therefore might benefit from additional therapy over and above surgery alone.
Partial breast irradiation effective treatment option for low-risk breast cancer
Partial breast irradiation produces similar long-term survival rates and risk for recurrence compared with whole breast irradiation for many women with low-risk, early stage breast cancer, according to new clinical data from a national clinical trial involving researchers from The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center - Arthur G.
Breast screening linked to 60 per cent lower risk of breast cancer death in first 10 years
Women who take part in breast screening have a significantly greater benefit from treatments than those who are not screened, according to a study of more than 50,000 women.
More clues revealed in link between normal breast changes and invasive breast cancer
A research team, led by investigators from Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, details how a natural and dramatic process -- changes in mammary glands to accommodate breastfeeding -- uses a molecular process believed to contribute to survival of pre-malignant breast cells.
Breast tissue tumor suppressor PTEN: A potential Achilles heel for breast cancer cells
A highly collaborative team of researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina and Ohio State University report in Nature Communications that they have identified a novel pathway for connective tissue PTEN in breast cancer cell response to radiotherapy.
Computers equal radiologists in assessing breast density and associated breast cancer risk
Automated breast-density evaluation was just as accurate in predicting women's risk of breast cancer, found and not found by mammography, as subjective evaluation done by radiologists, in a study led by researchers at UC San Francisco and Mayo Clinic.
Blood test can effectively rule out breast cancer, regardless of breast density
A new study published in PLOS ONE demonstrates that Videssa® Breast, a multi-protein biomarker blood test for breast cancer, is unaffected by breast density and can reliably rule out breast cancer in women with both dense and non-dense breast tissue.
Study shows influence of surgeons on likelihood of removal of healthy breast after breast cancer dia
Attending surgeons can have a strong influence on whether a patient undergoes contralateral prophylactic mastectomy after a diagnosis of breast cancer, according to a study published by JAMA Surgery.
Young breast cancer patients undergoing breast conserving surgery see improved prognosis
A new analysis indicates that breast cancer prognoses have improved over time in young women treated with breast conserving surgery.
Does MRI plus mammography improve detection of new breast cancer after breast conservation therapy?
A new article published by JAMA Oncology compares outcomes for combined mammography and MRI or ultrasonography screenings for new breast cancers in women who have previously undergone breast conservation surgery and radiotherapy for breast cancer initially diagnosed at 50 or younger.
More Breast Cancer News and Breast Cancer Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Climate Mindset
In the past few months, human beings have come together to fight a global threat. This hour, TED speakers explore how our response can be the catalyst to fight another global crisis: climate change. Guests include political strategist Tom Rivett-Carnac, diplomat Christiana Figueres, climate justice activist Xiye Bastida, and writer, illustrator, and artist Oliver Jeffers.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Speedy Beet
There are few musical moments more well-worn than the first four notes of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. But in this short, we find out that Beethoven might have made a last-ditch effort to keep his music from ever feeling familiar, to keep pushing his listeners to a kind of psychological limit. Big thanks to our Brooklyn Philharmonic musicians: Deborah Buck and Suzy Perelman on violin, Arash Amini on cello, and Ah Ling Neu on viola. And check out The First Four Notes, Matthew Guerrieri's book on Beethoven's Fifth. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.