Solving complex problems in large-scale research programmes requires cooperation and division of labour. Simultaneously, large-scale problem solving also gives rise to unintended side effects. Based upon 5 years of researching two large-scale nutrigenomic research programmes, we argue that problems are fragmented in order to be solved. These sub-problems are given priority for practical reasons and in the process of solving them, various changes are introduced in each sub-problem. Combined with additional diversity as a result of interdisciplinarity, this makes reassembling the original and overall goal of the research programme less likely. In the case of nutrigenomics and health, this produces a diversification of health. As a result, the public health goal of contemporary nutrition science is not reached in the large-scale research programmes we studied. Large-scale research programmes are very successful in producing scientific publications and new knowledge; however, in reaching their political goals they often are less successful.
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