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All change for funding of medical research in the United Kingdom

BMJ 2006; 332 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.332.7548.994 (Published 27 April 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;332:994
  1. Susan Mayor
  1. London

    Researchers have long wanted a simpler method for allocating research funds in the UK. A new distribution process is in the offing—though precise details are lacking, Susan Mayor reports

    Far reaching changes to the funding of academic medical research in the United Kingdom are on the horizon, with two new initiatives announced by the chancellor in his recent prebudget speech.

    Firstly, the budgets from the two existing streams for the public funding of medical research, the Medical Research Council and NHS Research, will be merged. And secondly, the current system for allocating research funding to UK universities—the research assessment exercise (RAE)—is being scrapped after the 2008 exercise.

    The current system is based on a peer review process, intended to direct limited research funds go to centres of excellence. In its place, a simpler “metrics based” system is being proposed—one that would be based on readily available figures. This might be a university's total research income from non-government sources, such as research councils, industry, and charities, which has previously been shown to correlate with research funding allocated by the RAE.

    In his speech on 22 March, the chancellor, Gordon Brown, said that one of his aims was to increase investment in science in the UK: “Britain …

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