Funding and regulation

The UK is a world leader in biomedical and health research and development (R&D), with a vibrant research and innovation ecosystem in which public investment leverages significant charity and private investment.

However, we must not take this for granted. Despite notable uplifts, the UK invests a lower proportion of our national wealth in R&D than many other leading scientific nations. The Academy believes the UK should increase total investment in R&D to 3% of GDP.

We therefore showcase the societal and economic benefits of investing in R&D, as well as the need for a regulatory environment that facilitates high-quality studies and aligns with robust ethical principles.

“The Academy has shown how the nation’s health, medical research, and the healthcare industry are all deeply interconnected, through the pandemic and beyond. Their tireless work has been central to ensuring rising investment in UK health research.” Dr June Raine, Chief Executive of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA)

The Academy was instrumental in founding the UK's main health research regulator.  

We are committed to facilitating a proportionate and streamlined system for the regulation and governance of health research. Ahead of the UK general election in 2010 we raised serious concerns that the UK regulatory environment was actually hampering research for patient benefit. As a result, the Government commissioned the Academy to undertake a comprehensive review of UK health research regulation. Based on over 300 written evidence submissions, we laid out a regulatory overhaul to widespread support from researchers, funders and patients.

Our review led to the establishment of the Health Research Authority (HRA) in primary legislation, streamlining regulatory processes that had previously delayed research. In 2022 the HRA celebrated its 10th anniversary.

The Academy has continued to champion a proportionate approach to the regulation and governance of health research in areas such as clinical trials and medical devices, and to highlight where regulation aimed at preventing the misuse of drugs is hampering research into treatments for unmet need.

“The Academy leads the way in bringing key players together, allowing different sectors to identify areas of common concern and to find a way to fix problems. The introduction of a better regulatory framework for health research has been a major boost to UK science and would not have happened without the hard work of the Academy.” Sir David Cooksey GBE FMedSci, Founding Chairman of The Francis Crick Institute

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