Imagine you arrived at a hospital emergency room before the advent of modern medicine with intense abdominal pain. You could have had a stomach virus, kidney stones, appendicitis, or something worse. But because the doctors lacked the proper diagnostic tools and knowledge to identify your illness, the only thing they could do was treat your most prominent symptom—your pain. For many with mental-health problems this scenario is still close to reality.
For every great idea–for every great solution to a problem–there are a thousand ideas that fall by the wayside, discarded along the path that begins at the first flash of insight and ends in a working solution. Translational medicine often follows this twisty path, especially in the realm of developing new medical devices.
A study published in the January 2, 2015, issue of Science that suggests that cancer is mainly bad luck spurred National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences biostatisticians to take a closer look at how the data were interpreted.