Modeling the payback from publicly-funded medical research

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This forum supports discussion on topics of specific interest to the Health Policy Special Interest Group of the System Dynamics Society. It is currently unmoderated, and anybody who is signed in may post to the forum.
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Jack Scott
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Joined: Fri Aug 07, 2009 9:31 am

Modeling the payback from publicly-funded medical research

Post by Jack Scott » Fri Aug 07, 2009 9:53 am

Good morning!

I am new to the Forum. I am the Vice president for Evaluation Services for Madrillon Group, a small firm that provides program and policy evaluation services to Federal clients in the US, primarily the National Institutes of Health. I am currently doing some work with the National Cancer Institute, which is hoping to sponsor a two-day meeting sometime next spring (we are in the planning phase right now) on determining the return on investment from cancer research funding. This is a rather interesting and complex problem, for several reasons: it can be difficult to track a specific clinical intervention back to a specific research study or project; there can be an appreciable lag in time between funding for research and the translation of a scientific discovery into a new form of treatment, or screening test, or other intervention; and the range of possible benefits that can be derived from funding biomedical research is considerable, and only some of these can be readily monetized, or even expressed in quantitative terms (and these are realized at different times after the research has been conducted.) We're looking at a variety of approaches, such as traditional cost-benefit models, input-output analysis, the Research Payback framework, and something pretty new, called the Archimedes model, which is based on differential equations and appears to view the world as a clinical trial. My feeling is that system dynamics should be represented as an approach that could address this problem, but I am looking for some evidence I can present to back up my claims.

I have several questions that I hope some of you might be able to help me with.

1. Have system dynamics models been used to explore problems such as this? Can SD models be used in this way?

2. Are you aware of any publications or reports that describe applications in this area?

3. Are any of you familiar with this Archimedes model? It was developed by David Eddy and Leonard Schlesinger and it is getting some favorable publicity just now. They have a website at www.archimedesmodel.com that describes their model in very broad terms and includes a number of publications that appear to show that when the model is validated against actual clinical trial data it does pretty well.

Anyway, can you help me out? Thanks very much!

Jack E. Scott, Sc.D.
The Madrillon Group, Inc.

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