Letters

Human and animal health: strengthening the links

BMJ 2005; 331 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.331.7527.1268-a (Published 24 November 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;331:1268

New foundation will help bring two disciplines together

  1. Robert Salisbury (ccsf.betts{at}btconnect.com), chairman, CCSF trustees
  1. Comparative Clinical Science Foundation (CCSF), Clarissa House, Wappenham, Northamptonshire NN12 8SN

    EDITOR—The United Kingdom is strong in veterinary science. However, the same reassuring state of affairs does not obtain in one area in particular: comparative clinical science. The British Veterinary Association suggested that the first of these weaknesses could best be addressed by using the Medical Research Council (MRC) as a channel for funding.

    In 2000 the MRC therefore agreed to establish a comparative clinical science panel, using new funds, for an initial trial period of five to seven years. The trial period was to protect the council from any possible criticism that it was “diverting” funds away from human research and to accumulate the evidence for the benefits for human medicine that could result from collaborative research in comparative clinical science. Now, the Comparative Clinical Science Foundation has been established to raise the first £25m towards the MRC starting this project. Leading medical and veterinary organisations, as well as individuals, have generously contributed the working capital to establish the appeal.

    In recent years minimally invasive quantitative techniques have strengthened the relation between comparative medicine and comparative clinical research, especially by using the spontaneous disease models encountered in veterinary medicine. The MRC panel will attach particular importance to collaborative projects including veterinary clinicians based in practice, as well as institutes and schools, both medical and veterinary. This will ensure large and representative populations of patients, rather than the small groups available to single establishments, and it will maximise cross fertilisation between basic and clinical science and between human and veterinary medicine. It will also raise the quality of veterinary clinical research and provide the evidence base essential for the future credibility of veterinary medicine. And it will encourage practitioners to become involved in clinical research, reducing the traditional damaging division between a career in practice and a career in research.

    After centuries of division, human and animal medicine are coming together. I hope that those interested in promoting scientific progress will support the Comparative Clinical Science Foundation, as the veterinary and medical professional bodies have done. In particular, animal charities, which have led the way in animal welfare, have large funds at their disposal. I hope it would not be too impertinent to suggest that their support could achieve an immense amount for animal welfare, over and above what they do already.

    Footnotes

    • Competing interests None declared.

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