# How to tell if you’re having regular medical breakthroughs

2016 April 5

## What medical breakthroughs look like:

## What $5 Billion / yr in Cancer Research looks like:

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2016 April 5

by Daniel Lakeland

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- Daniel Lakeland on Updated state by state graphs with bug fix: “Yes, the bug fix was to calculate the rolling average properly. Actually I think I further "fixed" it after posting…” May 25, 09:29
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It’s pretty clear that the big medical breakthrough was discovering that bacteria and viruses cause disease. Thanks Louis Pasteur!

Also, once we’d discovered that, we could put resources into reducing it… thanks ditch diggers, and waste water treatment plant engineers!

Oh, and of course thanks to Joseph Lister for encouraging surgeons to take bacteria seriously. So, by 1940 when we had penicillin come on the scene, we’d already clearly picked the low hanging fruit.

Of course, spending money on researching hard problems doesn’t always lead to flat results:

Or, you know. HIV/AIDS: