Stronger European medical research

BMJ 2008; 336 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.39489.505208.80 (Published 14 February 2008)
Cite this as: BMJ 2008;336:341

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  1. Trish Groves, deputy editor
  1. 1BMJ
  1. tgroves@bmj.com

    Needs investment in people, not simply more money

    How can Europe produce medical research that will best increase its citizens’ health and its countries’ wealth? This debate will run on and on, of course, but a new white paper from the European Medical Research Councils (EMRC) provides important evidence on funding and conducting effective, relevant, and world beating research (box 1).1 Summing up the white paper in Frankfurt last month, Professor Liselotte Højgaard, EMRC chair, quoted British physiologist Ernest Starling’s advice to the British Research Council in the 1920s, “get the best of men, give them the equipment you can afford, and leave them alone.”

    Box 1 European Medical Research Councils’ recommendations for strengthening medical research in Europe

    • Implementation of best practice for funding and performing medical research—with distribution of funding based on excellence and evaluated by peer review

    • Strengthened collaboration and coordination of medical research in Europe through the EMRC and its membership organisations, via the European Commission, the European Research Council, and the learned medical societies

    • Revision of European Commission directives related to medical research

    • Implementation of equal opportunities for all researchers

    • A doubling of public funding of medical research in Europe within the next 10 years—to a minimum of 0.25% of gross domestic product

    This white paper is one of several responses to last year’s green paper from the European Commission, which contained proposals on how to overcome the fragmentation of research activities, programmes, and policies across Europe.2 The EMRC’s response is a pragmatic and readable document that pulls together evidence on whether Europe is finding the best researchers and whether it is spending enough on research …

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