England's new research funding system leaves some fields of psychiatry out in cold

BMJ 2007; 334 doi: (Published 19 April 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;334:821
  1. Susan Mayor
  1. London

    New arrangements for funding academic medical research in England have left some disciplines, particularly in the field of psychiatry, out in the cold, depriving them of research funds and limiting career prospects for people wanting to work in these areas, researchers have warned.

    The new system, announced last year, merged the budgets from the two existing streams for the public funding of medical research, those of the Medical Research Council and NHS Research (BMJ 2006;332:994, doi: 10.1136/bmj.332.7548.994).

    There is now a single fund for academic medical research, administered by the National Institute for Health Research, which was set up to deliver the government's research strategy. Researchers in many disciplines who previously received funding directly from their NHS trusts have had to apply to the institute, and some have now been told that their research money will cease next year.

    Peter Tyrer, professor of community psychiatry at Imperial College London, and a member of the panel that reviewed applications for funding in mental health, considers that research applications in forensic psychiatry, child psychiatry, and intellectual difficulties have fared particularly badly. None of the bids in these fields were funded, even though many of the researchers making them have international reputations and have previously been successful in gaining funding from a wide range of research bodies.

    Of the 132 applications in mental health, only 15 were funded, …

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