Glenn Lightner in 2012 at age 13. His father searched clinicaltrials.gov for years, to no avail, hoping to find a promising experimental cancer treatment that might save his son's life. Courtesy of Lawrence Lightner hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of Lawrence Lightner

It's a good start when experimental compounds stop the proliferation of cancer cells in the lab. But, as many researchers have learned the hard way, that's just an early step toward creating a worthwhile treatment. Science Source hide caption

itoggle caption Science Source

Dr. Margaret Hamburg will have served almost six years as FDA commissioner by the time she leaves, far longer than the recent tenure for chiefs of the agency. J. David Ake/AP hide caption

itoggle caption J. David Ake/AP

A nurse administers an experimental Ebola vaccine Monday at Redemption Hospital in Monrovia, Liberia. Researchers aim to give shots to 27,000 people during the large trial. John Moore/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption John Moore/Getty Images

Harvard University student Elana Simon introduces President Obama before he spoke at the White House Friday about an initiative to encourage research into more precise medicine. Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Augustine Goba (right) heads the laboratory at Kenema Government Hospital in Sierra Leone. He and colleagues analyzed the viral genetics in blood samples from 78 Ebola patients early in the epidemic. Stephen Gire/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Stephen Gire/AP

Scientists reprogrammed the common bacterium E. coli so it requires a synthetic amino acid to live. BSIP/UIG via Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption BSIP/UIG via Getty Images

Dr. Stephen Teach helps Jeffery Ulmer listen to his daughter Alauna's asthmatic breathing at Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. Alauna's mother, Farisa, holds her. The District has one of the highest rates of pediatric asthma in the country. Jahi Chikwendiu/Washington Post hide caption

itoggle caption Jahi Chikwendiu/Washington Post

U.S. funding for medical research by source, 1994-2012. (Data were adjusted to 2012 dollars using the Biomedical Research and Development Price Index.) American Medical Association hide caption

itoggle caption American Medical Association

Dr. Richard Schlegel and postdoctoral fellow Nancy Palechor-Ceron use a microscope to look at human epithelial cells growing on mouse fibroblasts at Georgetown University Medical Center. Lauren Wolkoff/Georgetown University hide caption

itoggle caption Lauren Wolkoff/Georgetown University