As we adapt to the evolving COVID-19 pandemic, we continue to support the UK's best medical and health researchers and ensure their voices are included in the important decision-making ahead.
[Page last updated 13 October 2020]
Our policy work on COVID-19 and epidemics is informing key decision-makers in the UK and around the world.
Our Fellows are leading the UK scientific response to COVID-19, including Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty FMedSci and Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance FMedSci. We will continue to work with our researchers to provide expert advice to Government, stakeholders and the public throughout this pandemic.
In February we published a report on epidemic preparedness with the Medical Research Council and InterAcademy Partnership. Ahead of this report, our Vice President reflected on our readiness for COVID-19.
We rapidly reviewed how the UK must prepare for a challenging winter with experts and patients, considering how the disruption caused by COVID-19 alongside a backlog of people needing NHS assessment and treatment and the possibility of a flu epidemic. As seen in BBC News, Financial Times, The Guardian and more.We rapidly developed COVID-19 mental health and neuroscience research priorities with MQ, which were published in The Lancet Psychiatry. NIHR has since used our work to incentivise new research proposals on the acute mental health effects of the pandemic and in September our joint statement with MQ re-emphasised the importance of making this type of research a priority. As seen in BBC News, The Guardian, The Daily Mail and more.We rapidly reviewed key immunology knowledge gaps for COVID-19 with the British Society for Immunology, helping scientists navigate existing findings and focus on the most important research questions. The British Society for Immunology has since worked with members of our expert group to develop the UK Coronavirus Immunology Consortium.
Our live COVID-19 drug development database is helping scientists identify opportunities for collaboration, avoid duplication of effort and prioritise the most promising preclinical drug research. Visit the database to share your project and browse submitted projects.
We’ve rapidly convened experts on how academia and industry can further support COVID-19 diagnostic testing. The roundtable connected people from NHS, academia, industry and Government to discuss how the UK can learn from the initial testing response in spring 2020 and maximise future testing capacity.
Internationally, we have shared different countries' COVID-19 responses through our collaborative workshop with national academies from low- and middle-income countries, as well as a joint workshop and statement with the Brazilian National Academy of Medicine.
We have previously explored how to rapidly test new vaccines through controlled human infection model studies - where researchers deliberately infect adult volunteers to help understand a disease. Our 2018 workshop with Wellcome and the Human Infection Challenge Vaccine Network discussed the frameworks and oversight for this research.We have previously supported high-level responses to other viral outbreaks, in particular our 2005 report on pandemic influenza and our 2007 follow up with the Royal Society. In 2015, we partnered with Wellcome to explore the use of neuraminidase inhibitors in influenza.
Our broader COVID-19 policy work includes supporting the THIS Institute's work on ethical frameworks for COVID-19 swab testing of NHS workers.
We are committed to ensuring people access clear, up-to-date information on COVID-19 and take part in the ongoing debate of what that science means for our society.
Our President and Vice-Presidents have provided expert comment in national media on the pandemic since March, including print, TV and radio for the UK's key news sources, including the BBC News at Ten, the Daily Mail, BBC Radio 4 Today and many more. Our President and Vice Presidents continue to issue response statements, with recent topics including herd immunity, the 'Hands. Face. Space' public information campaign and the role of science in decision-making.
We are empowering young adults to make sense of the pandemic through an online comic series. Planet Divoc-91 is a powerful graphic story co-created by international graphic artists, a team of young people and the UK's top medical experts. The project is led by Vocal at Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust and Wowbagger Productions. Read the first chapter here.
“Uncertainty is inevitable in the coming months: it is amazing how much we have learnt already about a virus that emerged just a few months ago. Science thrives on debate and it is often the interaction of conflicting views and challenge that drives progress.
“However in an epidemic situation, like the one we are facing, people want certainty and firm reassurance. Trustworthy advice, from credible experts can quickly be politicised. Scientists bear a strong responsibility here and must work to ensure the public have access to the latest reliable evidence whilst at the same time maintaining awareness of its impact in the ongoing broader societal debate.” Academy President, March 2020
We will be as flexible as possible to support all our researchers around the challenges of COVID-19.
We've created a career support space offering resources and signposting support for leading a remote team, stress and overwork, being on the NHS frontline, looking after yourself and more.
Our grant funding rounds are continuing, although timings may change. Please visit individual scheme pages for more details. We've also published FAQs for grant applicants and awardees during COVID-19.
We're helping grant awardees adapt to COVID-19 delays. If you encounter problems that may delay the start of your Award, please contact us as soon as possible. If you encounter problems during your Award, we encourage you to not request a no-cost extension until the last three months of the Award, to allow all factors to be considered and minimise multiple requests for the same Award. All requests for extensions should be made before your Award end date. We will continue to consider no-cost extension requests on a case-by-case basis, but please be assured requests for no-cost extensions to Awards impacted by COVID-19 will be granted.
We support many clinical academics who have paused their research to focus on patient care. Together with the wider research community, we swiftly issued guidance in March to reassure our grant awardees of our full support. As disruption continues, this October we have jointly agreed revised principles and actions for clinical academic trainees to offer longer term, flexible and balanced support. Our Vice-President Professor Paul Stewart comments: "The Academy will continue to champion the needs of clinical academic trainees and I want them to know that they have our full and continued support."
Visit our COVID-19 career support space.
Robust scientific research is key to understanding and effectively tackling infectious disease outbreaks.
We are ensuring scientific data is shared rapidly and openly. In January, we collaborated with organisations around the world to call for effective sharing of COVID-19 data - reaffirming our commitment to the 2016 principles on data sharing during public health emergencies. We require all our grant awardees to ensure their peer-reviewed, original research publications are freely publically available under our commitment to open access.
We are collaborating to co-ordinate research funding as a member of the Epidemics Preparedness and Response Group convened by the UK Collaborative on Development Research, which supports research funders to provide coherent, collaborative funding during disease outbreaks.
We are putting patients and the public at the heart of pandemic policy-making, both in our own policy work and through reviewing and evaluating the successes of others. Find out more.
Please see the Policy work tab to find out more about our work on specific research areas.
All Academy work and events are online until at least June 2021.
The Academy is continuing a full programme of work virtually, including grants, policy work and career support programmes. Please see our events pages and individual grant scheme and career support programme pages for more information.
Our venue 41 Portland Place is now open for limited bookings in accordance with Government advice, having been awarded the Visit Britain We’re Good To Go industry standard. Find out more about our Grade II* listed townhouse and outdoor terrace on the 41 Portland Place website. For more information and enquiries about future bookings and events, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org