Out of Many, One

Many remember learning Latin in school. In fact, I am old enough to have taken Latin as a school subject for two years in high school. Therefore, I know that “e” means “out of”. And “unum” means “one.” And “pluribus” means “many”. So, if you look on the back of that dollar bill, you will know that “E pluribus unum” means “out of many, one.”

That same principle which serves as one of the key founding principles of our American society also serves as the bedrock of our research efforts in basic science and in drug discovery – two areas which have moved cancer care so far forward in the past few decades. Research to learn the basic principles of cancer and to find drugs useful for a lot of patients is based on the principle, Out of Many, One.

Now, however, an entire new industry of cancer research and care for the individual patient is being born. The idea here is that we have so much accumulated knowledge that benefit can be returned to the individual patient of today, rather than having to wait to benefit the patient of tomorrow. Our new Latin motto, if I have the phrase declination correct, is “Ex uno, plures.”

We can now start turning the world upside down by testing living tumor tissue outside the patient’s body. The benefit we figure out for the one can then accumulate the knowledge that, with “big data,” can be turned into knowledge and benefit for the many. The third major research industry in the biomedical sciences is now at hand. Alongside drug discovery and basic cancer molecular research for the masses is the new industry of research for individual patient benefit.

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