Improving clinical research

BMJ 2003; 327 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.327.7422.999 (Published 30 October 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;327:999
  1. Paul M Stewart, professor of medicine (p.m.stewart@bham.ac.uk)
  1. University of Birmingham, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham B15 2TH

    Failure to support clinical research now will cost human lives later

    In the post-genome era, clinical research couldn't be simpler. Exposure to human disease stimulates an enquiring mind to investigate underlying pathogenesis or new therapeutictargets. New functions are ascribed to genes that shed new light on cellular biology. Exciting stuff, but I am a clinician first and desperate to return this new found knowledge to patients to improve their outcome. It is here that the system fails us, resulting in adetrimental impact on the NHS and care for patients. The Academy of Medical Sciences has identified several factors that impair translational research1—defined as experimental medicine and clinical trials. Lack of research funding for clinical trials, inadequate facilities to undertake patient orientated clinical research, limited numbers of clinical academics, the threat of increasingly complex legal and ethical governance issues, and failings in the NHS are highlighted as contributory factors. Eleven recommendations are made.

    Modelled on the clinical research centres in the United States, the Wellcome Trust hasfunded five purpose built clinical research facilities for patient orientated clinical research across the United Kingdom. The new clinician scientist scheme has helped develop the careers of aspiring researchers, and despite cutbacks, most …

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