Friday, October 29, 2004

Why Information Technology hasn't Transformed Life Sciences

Bob Robbins from Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research has a nice theory on
why information technology hasn't transformed life sciences research
yet:

UPS had an annual budget of US$20 billion (five year old numbers) and
spent about $1 billion per year on IT. That is about 5%. The National
Institutes of Health have a combined annual budget of $26 billion and
the National Cancer Institute part of NIH has an annual budget of $8
billion. However they are only spending $20 million in the first year
of caBIG. That is one quarter of a percent on IT for the largest life
sciences effort.

If the UPS model of a centralized, coordinated and efficient
distribution system is a reasonable basis for a cost model for a
distributed, uncoordinated and inefficient life sciences data sharing
environment, then information technology for life sciences research is
seriously underfunded. The reality is probably much worse.

So, Bob says, information technology has not transformed life sciences
research because IT spending by research organizations is underfunded
by one to two orders of magnitude.

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