Brexit: Giving medical science a voice  

Our president, Professor Sir Robert Lechler PMedsci, highlights what the Academy is doing to make sure biomedical research is prioritised and protected during the Brexit negotiations

The Academy of Medical Sciences is committed to securing the best possible outcome for biomedical research from Brexit.

The Academy must ensure that our exit from the European Union is conducted in a manner that protects UK and European medical research. This must include safeguarding the people who conduct research and, importantly, the patients who benefit from advances in understanding and new treatments.

Ensuring the voice of UK medical science is heard as negotiations continue, has been, and will continue to be, high priority for the Academy.

Making the case for research

Raising the profile of the value of the shared European research endeavour has been one of our primary goals. Since the referendum in June 2016, we have gathered evidence on the current research relationship between the UK and EU.

In May 2017 we published two jointly commissioned reports (The role of EU funding on the UK research and innovation landscape and The value of UK medical research to EU science and health). We have shared the key points from these reports in Government, Parliament and through the media. The latter informed Government’s position paper on the Future Partnership for science and innovation and both gained substantial media attention and were widely shared with policy makers.

Influencing at home

To ensure that I can deliver the Academy’s key messages directly to Government I sit on the Minister for Universities, Science, Research & Innovation’s High Level Group on EU exit. In October 2017, the Academy, with the Wellcome Trust, prepared a paper and led a discussion on the impact of EU regulations on research and innovation with this group.

We have also submitted written evidence to four Parliamentary Select Committees on the impacts of Brexit on research and the life sciences sector and continue to collect and share evidence and key messages on research.

I was pleased to see that in December of last year, two of our most pressing concerns were addressed: clarity on the rights of EU nationals living in the UK and UK nationals living in the EU and confirmation of the UK’s continued participation in Horizon 2020 until its conclusion. More recently, BEIS published a position paper on the next EU research and innovation framework programme, demonstrating that the UK Government intends to continue to work with the EU to help shape the future of our shared European research endeavour. Building on these developments, we will continue to ask for what we know is best for biomedicine, guiding policy with evidence-based messages.

Influencing in Europe

Last month I was delighted to host Pascal Lamy, the Chair of the European Commission’s High Level Group on maximising the impact of EU research and innovation programmes, at the Academy of Medical Sciences for a roundtable discussion with the UK national Academies to consider how we can work together to achieve the optimal outcome for European research.

Our Vice President International, Professor George Griffin FMedSci, has recently visited his counterpart in the Academy of Medical Sciences of Romania and has visits planned to Academies in France, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland where he will show our commitment to collaboration. I am also delighted that George is set to be the next President of the Federation of European Academies of Medicine (FEAM), exemplifying our continued desire to work closely with our European colleagues.

Next challenges on the horizon

The hardest work lies ahead. Shaping the long-term relationship with our EU partners will take time and hard work. We will continue to work internationally and across the sector, to engage Government, and raise the profile of the sector’s requirements via the media and our digital communications.

The strength of the Academy lies in its Fellowship, whose membership shapes and supports all of our activities. Our Brexit Advisory Group, a group of Fellows and early career researchers drawn from academia, industry and the NHS, Council and Officers ensure our work is best informed.

As negotiations progress the Academy will continue to ensure the voice of UK science is heard in the UK and internationally. We must all stand ready to play our part in sending the message that UK science is very much open for business.  

For more information about Academy policy work, visit our policy pages

To find out more about supporting the work of the Academy see our ‘Support Us’ webpage




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