Research Process

The First Question

All research begins with a question. Scientists and investigators do not perform experiments at random and hope for some useful results. All research is carried out through careful planning and design that seeks to answer a specific question.
For instance, if we take the question "How can Cancer be cured?" you have a good starting place for thought. But, due to the complexity of cancer, this question does not have an immediately obvious (or testable) answer, so we break the question down into smaller, more focused questions:


  • "What causes cancer in the first place?"
  • "What makes cancer cells act like a disease instead of a normal cell?"
  • "How can we slow cancer's growth?"
  • "How can we detect cancer earlier?"
  • "How can we target cancer instead of the body?"
  • "What parts of the cell do drugs need to target to be effective?"
  • "What genes are responsible for cancer's ability to survive?"

These are the sorts of specific questions that allow an experiment to begin to be designed. The researchers in the Whitehurst laboratory are focusing on the question what proteins in the cell make good targets for new drugs that make existing chemotherapy treatments more effective and have already made some progress in determining the answer. Much of the ongoing and future research focusing on narrowing the answer down to a degree that drugs can be developed to target specific processes in the cell.

This portion of the website explains the entire process of developing a cancer drug by explaining the methods and experiments used in the laboratory. Starting from the initial research question, and ending in creating a drug for testing and approval.


Start the Research