Trust But Verify

The Crisis in Biomedicine

Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice, shame on scientific research? Research studies investigating other research studies – yes, it’s very meta – have diagnosed a “reproducibility” crisis in biomedicine. Simply put, it’s shockingly difficult to reproduce the results of many laboratory research studies relied upon as authoritative and definitive.

As a result, the reliability of a large share of the research published about medicine and the biology of medicine is in question. The reasons vary from poor training of young scientists engaged in ever more complex and esoteric inquiries to perverse incentives that reward researchers for flashy findings but don’t penalize them for being wrong. Some errors are inevitable—in fact, it’s a part of science. But today’s reproducibility crisis is challenging the very idea that scientific knowledge expands by research studies that build upon each other. Is a transformation of the underlying culture of biomedical research necessary? How difficult will it be to accomplish?

Reliable studies show you should join Future Tense on Thursday, April 21, in Washington, DC, to explore this crisis in biomedicine.

Follow the conversation online using #BioMedCrisis and by following @FutureTenseNow.


Verify: How Should the Scientific Process Change to Address the Reproducibility Crisis?

Emma Frow
Assistant Professor, School of Biological and Health Systems Engineering and School for the Future of Innovation in Society, Arizona State University

Brian Nosek 
Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Virginia
Executive Director and Co-founder, Center for Open Science

Lawrence A. Tabak
Principal Deputy Director, National Institutes of Health


Carolyn Johnson 
Business of health reporter, The Washington Post
Trust: How Science Journalism Can Help the Public Evaluate Findings

Arturo Casadevall 
Alfred & Jill Sommer Professor and Chair, W. Harry Feinstone Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Johns Hopkins University
Bloomberg Distinguished Professor, Department of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University

Carolyn Compton
Professor, Life Science, Arizona State University
Professor, Laboratory Medicine and Pathology, Mayo Clinic School of Medicine
Chief Medical Officer, Complex Adaptive Systems Institute, Arizona State University

Richard Harris 
Science Correspondent, National Public Radio (on leave)
Visiting Scholar, Consortium for Science, Policy & Outcomes, Arizona State University


Rachel Gross 
Editorial Assistant, Slate
Board member, DC Science Writers Association