Types of Big Science
There are many types of big science and they each can be useful for different types of problems.
First, the focused, systems-driven, cross-disciplinary, milestone-driven, and integrative systems biology of ISB has been quite effective in attacking both complex biological and medical problems such as P4 medicine.
Second, the Human Genome Project represents a wonderful example of discovery-based big science where the objective is to define all of the elements in a biological object (the human genome) without consideration of hypothesis-driven questions.
Third, another type of big science is a loose federation of scientists that cluster around a central problem such as breast cancer. These groups often do not have sharply focused objectives, are not cross disciplinary, and usually are not integrative.
A fourth approach is that of a single large laboratory that is directed by one individual and often focused on one or more big problems. These efforts can be very productive but are often not systems-driven, cross-disciplinary, nor integrative.
Finally, the DOE National Laboratories represent another type of big science that has access to incredible technologies and computational and mathematical resources. Clearly different types of big science can be used to approach different types of big problems.