Intended for healthcare professionals


Six international research bodies form alliance to target chronic diseases

BMJ 2009; 338 doi: (Published 22 April 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;338:b1640
  1. Helen MacDonald
  1. 1BMJ

    Six of the world’s biggest research bodies have come together to channel funding into the fight against chronic diseases. The Global Alliance on Chronic Disease “will give big funders a neutral platform to meet, talk, and share,” said Stig Pramming, who is charged with developing the alliance. “It will provide an effective way of making decisions and facilitating donations.”

    Professor Pramming, who is head of the Oxford Health Alliance, a UK based group of international experts, activists, and corporate executives that was formed in 2003 to work on chronic diseases, said that the global alliance is partly a response to the publication in Nature in 2007 of a feature on “grand challenges in chronic non-communicable diseases,” of which he was a coauthor (2007;450:494-6, doi:10.1038/450494a).

    “The Oxford Health Alliance was about raising awareness, finding solutions to how we implement the existing knowledge, and finding solutions to the problems of prevention,” Professor Pramming said at the annual summit of the alliance in Oxford on 16 April. “The global alliance will be about funding research into things that we don’t know—about the impediments to making progress in the chronic disease area.”

    The global alliance, which is expected to launch in June 2009, is made up so far of the UK Medical Research Council, the US National Institutes of Health, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the India Council of Medical Research, China’s Ministry of Health, and the Australian Medical Research Council.

    “These funders probably account for 85% of all the public research funding in the world. But this is not the final group,” said Professor Pramming. “We would like more funders, including private funders, to join, and to involve the World Health Organization too.”

    Funding for research into chronic disease is low and inconsistent, Professor Pramming said. He drew an analogy with HIV and AIDS, illustrating the delay between a major health problem developing and funding being allocated for research into the problem. He believes the same delay is true of chronic disease. “Funds are increasing now, and so there is a need for an alliance,” he said.

    At its launch the global alliance hopes to begin with a limited number of research priorities, and it will discuss future priorities at a meeting in November 2009.


    Cite this as: BMJ 2009;338:b1640


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