Intended for healthcare professionals

Views & Reviews Review of the Week

The world inside the head

BMJ 2008; 336 doi: (Published 26 June 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;336:1505
  1. Christopher Martyn, associate editor, BMJ
  1. christopher.martyn{at}

There’s a widespread belief that biology can best be understood at the level of molecular interaction. Although the website of the UK Medical Research Council (MRC) proclaims that it gives a high priority to research that is likely to make a real difference to clinical practice and the health of the population, it spends the lion’s share of its budget on molecular and cellular research. That this is the right thing to do goes virtually unchallenged. Five years ago the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee published a highly critical report of the workings of the MRC, forcing George Radda, then its chief executive, into making the memorable excuse that “with hindsight we should have had more foresight.” But the committee was criticising the way in which the budget was administered rather than how the money was spent.

However, even if we put aside doubts about whether the bodies that fund medical research have achieved the right balance …

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