In case you haven't yet seen it, the Science section of today's New York Times has a special feature on what we can expect from medicine and science in 2011. There are articles on Alzheimer's disease, brain cancer, mental health and AIDS, plus a broader piece by Gina Kolata on the predictability (or unpredictability) of scientific breakthroughs. I especially liked Kolata's anecdote about being asked in a job interview 25 years ago to predict the most important medical story of the coming year:
I replied that the reason science reporting is exciting is that the big discoveries are so unpredictable.
But, the interviewer pressed, surely there must be some stories I was following that were on the verge of a breakthrough. I realized I had to come up with something, so I said: “Gene therapy. It is likely that next year gene therapy will be shown to work and medicine will be transformed.”
Well, I am still waiting for that to happen.