Academy welcomes the Prime Minister’s commitments to the life sciences

In response to the Prime Minister’s speech on Monday 5 December 2011, Professor Sir John Tooke PMedSci, President, Academy of Medical Sciences said; “The Academy of Medical Sciences welcomes the initiatives announced in the Prime Minister’s speech and his vision to position the UK as the best place in the world to translate scientific discovery into clinical use and bring medical innovation to patients more quickly.

If we are to realise this vision a holistic approach to the whole of the research and development pathway is necessary. Fostering productive links between the health service, industry and academia is crucial to securing such an approach and I welcome the Prime Minister's commitment to this agenda. I am delighted to see that the Government has made a solid commitment to monitor the progress and impact of these new initiatives with the help of the Academy’s former President, Professor Sir John Bell FRS HonFREng FMedSci and Mr Chris Brinsmead, the UK Life Sciences Advisor. This will instil confidence across the sector.

The Prime Minister’s speech rightly recognises that regulation can create unnecessary delays to the detriment of both patients and industry. The establishment of the Health Research Authority last week and the other initiatives outlined in the speech are important steps, precipitated by the Academy’s 2011 report, ‘A new pathway for the regulation and governance of health research’. We must continue to monitor activity in this area to ensure genuine progress is being made in streamlining the regulation of health research.

The Government’s commitment to enable a more permeable relationship between academia and industry in relation to scientific careers is particularly welcome. Universities have a responsibility here to ensure that reward mechanisms for staff acknowledge such contributions.

The creation of new Academic Health Science Networks as hubs not only for innovation, but as a framework for applied health research, diffusion of evidence and research-informed education throughout England, could be genuinely transformational and the Academy looks forward to working with the Chief Medical Officer to develop these partnerships.

The Biomedical Catalyst Fund will help to bridge the ‘valley of death’ funding gap faced by our economically important small and medium biotechnology firms. I very much welcome the focus on empowering patients to participate in research and drive the adoption of new advances within the NHS. Partnerships between clinicians, researchers and patients are vital to realise this ambition. Facilitating access to patient data (with appropriate safeguards) will make it easier for them to take part in research, which is known to benefit participants.

- ENDS –

For further information, please contact:

Nicholas Hillier, Head of Communications , Academy of Medical Sciences 020 3176 2154

Notes for Editors

The independent Academy of Medical Sciences promotes advances in medical science and campaigns to ensure these are translated into benefits for patients. The Academy’s Fellows are the United Kingdom’s leading medical scientists and scholars from hospitals, academia, industry and the public service.

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