Science & Technology

169 Items

teaser image

Blog Post - perspectives-on-public-purpose

Basic Science Research as the Pillar for NDD Drug Development

| Mar. 24, 2023

In the last decade, there has been a significant increase in the prevalence of neurodegenerative diseases (NDD) in the United States, affecting approximately 10.5 million individuals. This number is predicted to triple in the next 30 years.1 However, in comparison to other disease areas such as oncology, the approval of NDD drugs has been relatively limited. Our team has explored the NDD drug development ecosystem from three perspectives: stakeholders, funding, and policy. This article summarizes our key findings and presents a case study to suggest that the scarcity of new drug development may be attributable to insufficient basic scientific research. Finally, we outline our objectives for the upcoming semester.

teaser image

Blog Post - perspectives-on-public-purpose

The Funding Ecosystem for Neurodegenerative Disease

| Dec. 16, 2022

In recent years, there has been an increased focus on finding treatments for neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, as the prevalence of these diseases continues to rise globally. This blog aims to provide an overview of the sources and trends of funding for neurodegenerative disease research, with a particular focus on comparing funding for these diseases with that of other classes of diseases. By examining historical funding trends and the current sources of funding, we seek to shed light on the current state of the funding ecosystem for neurodegenerative disease research. We will also explore how funding is allocated across different types of neurodegenerative diseases and discuss potential bottlenecks in the funding process that may be hindering progress in the development of therapies.

*This blog is part of a series titled TAPP for Neurodegenerative Diseases Drug Discovery: Mapping the ecosystem

teaser image

Blog Post - perspectives-on-public-purpose

The Stakeholders Involved in the Neurodegenerative Disease Drug Development Process

| Dec. 16, 2022

Neurodegenerative diseases (NDDs) are a class of disorders that cause the progressive loss of structure or function of neurons, leading to declines in cognitive and physical abilities. Drug discovery and development for these diseases is a complex, multi-stakeholder process involving a variety of entities across the United States, including government agencies, businesses, research institutions, academic institutions, and non-profit organizations. These stakeholders interact with each other at various stages of the non-linear cycle of drug development, which typically involves a range of activities including pre-clinical research, clinical trials, regulatory approval, and commercialization.

Given the complexity of this process and the challenges involved in developing effective treatments for NDDs, it is important to better understand the role of different stakeholders and the potential barriers they face. This blog aims to provide a deeper examination of the various stakeholders involved in NDD drug discovery and development, and to offer an initial hypothesis on key challenges that may be contributing to the lack of disease-altering therapies for these conditions.

*This blog is part of a series titled TAPP for Neurodegenerative Diseases Drug Discovery: Mapping the ecosystem

teaser image

Blog Post - perspectives-on-public-purpose

Understanding How Policy Affects Neurodegenerative Disease Drug Development

| Dec. 16, 2022

As highlighted in our initial blog post, the neurodegenerative disease (NDD) drug development space has seen little progress compared to other disease areas such as cancer and immunology. A number of factors contribute to a lack of curative or disease-altering therapies addressing NDD including a poor understanding of the pathophysiology of most NDDs and historically lower investment as opposed to other disease areas. However, the use of policy instruments has the potential to drive progress and improve NDD drug development. This article introduces our research on the impact of key policies on NDD drug development. It also presents our initial findings on the effectiveness of current policies and identifies areas where further action is needed.

*This blog is part of a series titled TAPP for Neurodegenerative Diseases Drug Discovery: Mapping the ecosystem

teaser image

Blog Post - perspectives-on-public-purpose

Combat Neurodegenerative Diseases Crisis with Technology and Public Policy

| Nov. 21, 2022

Neurodegenerative diseases (NDD) such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and ALS represent a global health crisis affecting more than nine million people in the United States alone. NDDs are caused by progressive loss of central nervous system neurons - currently, there is no cure to reverse this loss. The only approved therapies are palliative or mildly reduce some symptoms. In this blog, the author introduces ways technology and public policy can improve the drug discover process to "cure the uncureable" - setting the stage for his larger research project this academic year.

teaser image

Analysis & Opinions - Foreign Affairs

Pathogens Have the World’s Attention: The United States Should Lead a New Push Against Bioweapons

| Mar. 16, 2021

U.S. President Joe Biden has spoken frequently of restoring the United States’ credibility as a global leader. That task, which comes at a moment of global crisis, will require the United States to recommit to multilateral diplomacy, even while managing a dangerously deteriorating relationship with China. By acting on biosecurity—a neglected priority hiding in plain sight—Biden can make progress on all of these goals. Washington has an opportunity to lead in an era of heightened great-power competition, address the need for arms control measures that reduce the risk of biological weapons, and potentially even push China to cooperate to that end.  

Members of the Faculty Working Group discuss the public purpose implications of emerging technologies.

Benn Craig


Boston Tech Hub Faculty Working Group Annual Report 2019-2020

| September 2020

The Boston Tech Hub Faculty Working Group (FWG), hosted by former Secretary of Defense and Belfer Center Director Ash Carter and Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences Dean Frank Doyle, holds monthly discussion-based meetings that explore and answer the question:

How do we resolve the dilemmas posed to public good and public purpose, created by technology’s unstoppable advances?

The Boston Tech Hub Faculty Working Group Annual Report is a summary report of findings, key insights, and outstanding questions from the discussions held during the 2019-2020 academic year.  

Donald Trump and Anthony Fauci

AP/Alex Brandon

Paper - Centre for International Governance Innovation

US Intelligence, the Coronavirus and the Age of Globalized Challenges

| Aug. 24, 2020

This essay makes three arguments. First, the US government will need to establish a coronavirus commission, similar to the 9/11 commission, to determine why, since April 2020, the United States has suffered more coronavirus fatalities than any other country in the world. Second, the COVID-19 pandemic represents a watershed for what will be a major national security theme this century: biological threats, both from naturally occurring pathogens and from synthesized biology. Third, intelligence about globalized challenges, such as pandemics, needs to be dramatically reconceptualized, stripping away outmoded levels of secrecy.

A visitor looks at a robotic hand powered by Kinfinity Glove, developed by the German Aerospace Center, on display at the World Robot Conference at the Yichuang International Conference and Exhibition Centre in Beijing, Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017.

(AP Photo/Andy Wong)

Analysis & Opinions - WIRED

Help Us Recognize Tech That Protects Our Values

| Oct. 09, 2019

Technology and all of objective science are caught in a crisis of reputation. From investigations into competition practices to legislative scrutiny over the application and safety of new products, innovators are facing a reckoning for their seeming absence of principles such as privacy, security, inclusion, transparency, and accountability. But it is possible to bend the arc of innovation toward overall public purpose.

The Technology and Public Purpose Project at Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and WIRED are excited to announce the inaugural Tech Spotlight, which will recognize products, initiatives, and policies that embrace principles such as privacy, security, safety, transparency, accountability, and inclusion—and that aim to minimize technological harms.  Nomination will be open until November 30, 2019 at 11:59pm EST.

biohazard bag in laboratory

Wikimedia CC/R.Bektaev

Analysis & Opinions - CNN

What Digital Nerds and Bio Geeks Have to Worry About

| Sep. 13, 2019

The authors explain how the risks of computer systems are transferring to biological systems. The difference is that biological systems have the potential to cause a greater degree of damage than computer systems. Stringent biocontainment helps, but no containment system provides zero risk.