Former Intel chief pushes for faster clinical research

Andy Grove is a well-known critic of the slow pace of innovation in drug development, and he's taken some lumps from other critics who say his statements seem to be out of touch with the complexity of human biology. Now 75 and continuing his battle with Parkinson's disease, the former Intel ($INTC) chief continues to push for change in clinical research and has made some major contributions to translational medicine over the years, the San Jose Mercury News reported over the weekend.

Last week he was published in Science reasserting a call for speedier clinical trials. Since 2005, he's dipped into a personal fortune gained through advancing computer chip technology and poured $30 million into biomedical research. Beyond funding scientific programs, he's worked with a member of Intel's digital health group to develop an objective rating system for Parkinson's disease progression. And he seeded master's degree programs in translational medicine at UC Berkeley and UC San Francisco, according to the Mercury News report.

Biomedical progress can't keep up with Moore's Law, and Grove seems to understand this. Even DNA sequencing has become faster and cheaper than many expected, and some have pointed out that it has outpaced advances in IT during the past several years, yet clinical research crawls at generally the same slow rate. In fact, a result of the many genomic studies over the last decade have taught researchers that human biology and diseases such as cancer are more complex than many once understood them to be.

Still, Grove has remained determined to teach biomedical researchers lessons that helped Intel engineer better computer chips and release them annually. "Maybe I'm a Don Quixote," Grove told the Mercury News. "I'm just trying to figure out something and move the ball... Manage science like a business project. We do this all the time in industry."

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