Last month, an editorial in Nature urged the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to fund more upstream areas of basic research (see Time for Gates to speak up about neglected diseases)
But in this letter to Nature, Tikki Pang, director of the World Health Organisation’s research policy and cooperation department, argues that such a recommendation is off the mark, and that too much emphasis has been placed on biomedical and upstream basic research. Rather, he argues that most effort needs to be channelled into closing the gulf between what we know and what we do in practice — the ‘know-do’ gap.
Research into public-health systems and services and the contribution of the social and behavioural sciences are neglected fields, he says. Such research is critical in linking basic research to healthcare delivery, and in obtaining the participation and support of the people at whom new interventions are targeted.