We asked experts in the fields of neuroscience, biology, immunology and more to tell us their biggest goals for the next decade. Here are 10 breakthroughs they want to accomplish (in no particular order).
Now that researchers at the Human Genome Project have finished mapping the body's 25,000 genes, scientists are hard at work on an even bigger task. Genes produce potentially millions of proteins that form most cellular structures and perform virtually all the tasks necessary for life, and calculating which genes code for which proteins is one of the most ambitious undertakings in medicine.
Scientists must also come to a better understanding of the metabolic processes that occur within each cell. The metabolic system controls all of the body’s biochemical processes, including extracting energy from the environment and using it to help build new cells. Obesity and diabetes are considered metabolic diseases, and recently researchers have even begun investigating the role of metabolism in cancer. One major goal for the coming decade is creating the “metabolome,” a complete map of the metabolic system that would let doctors observe the body’s processes on a cellular level and give them insight into the chemical differences between healthy and diseased tissues, perhaps leading to new tests or treatments. Yet another groundbreaking mapping initiative will detail the complex networks of the brain and help us determine what goes wrong in diseased brains.
In the next 10 years, we’ll see research strides in aging, obesity and cancer. Scientists will tackle scourges such as malaria, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, and they will develop antibiotics that don’t promote deadly bacterial resistance. This is how they’ll do it.