The tremendous achievements of life sciences research in the last 40 years have brought relatively little improvements to medical practice, suggesting a deficiency of the medical innovation system in capitalizing on these fundamental advances. We argue that a major cause of the poor innovative performance is the slow adaption of the scientific system to the novel research technologies made available by the progress in the life sciences – rather than resistance of practitioners. We interpret the changes in the organization of medical research through the lenses of the theory of New Sciences, which puts forward that the application of novel research technologies promotes new epistemological and methodological approaches to the investigation of complex phenomena, increasing interdisciplinary intellectual exchanges. In oncology, Translational Research, that embodies the features of a new science, coexists with the standard model of knowledge production in clinical medicine. Our comparison of the two approaches finds that Translational Research allows investigations across diverse and cognitively distant knowledge bases, thanks to the intensive use of research technologies that emerge from fundamental research. Unlike standard studies, the scientific impact of translational studies benefits from the adoption of an interdisciplinary approach. However, translational studies have an overall lower impact than their counterpart.
- Organization of scientific research
- Interdisciplinary research
- Research technologies
- Science-technology link
- Cognitive complementarities