To celebrate the Academy’s 20th birthday, we have put together a snapshot of 20 of our biggest impacts. To find out more about our 20th celebrations and our future plans, read this blog by our President Professor Sir Robert Lechler, and follow #AMS20 on social media.
The Academy would like to thank all our funders, partners and collaborators, without whom none of this work would be possible.
#2 More doctors doing research
“In 2000, shortly after the birth of the Academy, there was real concern around the dwindling numbers of clinician scientists and the decline of clinical research.
“In a relatively short time the Academy has played an instrumental role to address the decline in numbers of clinical academics, influencing policy and clinical training pathways; and developing in-house supportive grant and mentoring schemes to attract an influx of talent to medical science.”
Professor Sir John Savill FRS FRSE FMedSci, Chief Executive of the Medical Research Council
Clinical academics, who are doctors also active in research, are essential in bridging the gap between laboratory research and better patient outcomes. When the Academy was created in 1998, the number of UK clinical academics was declining. An underlying problem was a lack of clear training pathways for people who wanted to be both clinicians and researchers, together with a shortage of funding and support.
Between 2000 and 2003 the Academy released four influential reports recommending urgent action to strengthen clinical research in the UK: The Tenure Track Clinical Scientist, Implementing the Clinician Scientist Scheme, Clinical Medicine in Jeopardy and Strengthening Clinical Research.
These reports had wide-ranging consequences, including spurring the creation of Clinician Scientist Fellowship (CSF) schemes by several funders, including Cancer Research UK, NIHR and the MRC. The Academy’s own CSF programme, run in partnership with the Health Foundation, has invested over £13 million in outstanding clinical academics, with an independent evaluation estimating a return of over £4 for every £1 spent, approximately £52 million in total.
The Academy has also provided strategic intervention to help clinical researchers move towards independence. We observed that, while Clinical Lecturer posts offer personal salary and protected research time, they do not provide research costs. The Starter Grants for Clinical Lecturers scheme has helped to bridge this gap by providing ‘starter’ funds of £30k over two years. It was launched in 2008 as a partnership with the Wellcome Trust and has to date supported 438 clinical academics to move towards independence. In the past 10 years, the scheme has grown to include a consortium of six funders and has supported a diversity of researchers across all clinical specialities, as well as veterinary science.