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Physiologist. 1994 Jun;37(3):79-86.

The essential role of integrative biomedical sciences in protecting and contributing to the health and well-being of our nation.

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University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria.


The biomedical sciences in the United States are currently experiencing the effects of an increased emphasis on in vitro models of biological and disease processes. Advances in cellular and subcellular biology have been a driving force in the funding of new research, the training of new scientists, and new drug discovery and development. The importance of new findings at the cellular and subcellular levels is not disputed. However, the corresponding decline in funding and training opportunities for biologically relevant investigations at the level of the intact animal (including humans; hereafter designated as integrative biology) is a serious threat to continued biomedical advances. The lack of resources for integrative biology has far-reaching negative consequences in 1) the development and utilization of whole animal models of disease and dysfunction; 2) assessing the relevancy of in vitro studies to physiological mechanisms; 3) the evaluation of the scientific merit of whole animal investigations and their relevancy to the nation's scientific imperatives; 4) the instruction of young scientists in the technology and especially in the methods of integrative biology, including how to develop appropriate experimental hypotheses; 5) the instruction of graduate, medical, dental, pharmacy, and nursing students in drug and disease processes in the intact human; and 6) the ability of the pharmaceutical manufacturers, the FDA, the EPA and academia to hire scientists who can develop drugs and evaluate the effects of exogenous agents on the intact animal. These negative consequences can be alleviated in a variety of ways. These include 1) increasing the availability of funding for research in integrative biology, 2) increasing the opportunities for training in integrative biology, and 3) instituting grant reviews of integrative biomedical research by peers in integrative biomedical sciences. These measures can revitalize integrative biomedical research, help ensure the continued advancement of biomedical understanding, and consequently contribute to the alleviation of human suffering.

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