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Collaboration needed for strengthening medical research in Europe

Public spending on medical research in Europe should be doubled over the next ten years to ensure health and welfare for Europes citizens and to nurture a thriving European medical research industry. There should be greater collaboration between European institutions in medical research and improved career paths for medical scientists.

These are some of the main recommendations of the European Medical Research Councils (EMRC) White Paper, Present Status and Future Strategy for Medical Research in Europe which was debated at a meeting on 30 January 2008 in Frankfurt (Germany) with the participation of the Heads of Medical Research Councils in Europe, Editors of Medical Journals, Presidents of Medical Learned Societies and Deans of Medical Faculties in Europe.

The audience acclaimed the White paper and made the following recommendations:

  • Increased funding must be by sustainable growth,
  • Collaboration on big programmes is essential,
  • Research areas should be determined by health priorities and not only science topics,
  • Collaboration on an improvement of peer review of grants is essential - and peer reviewers should be acknowledged and rewarded,
  • MD/PhD programmes are important and should be of high quality,
  • the best researchers - like the Nobel Laureates at The Lindau meeting - to participate in teaching,
  • Novel technologies and research infrastructures are important as well as incentive in terms of decent salaries to attract and retain young researchers

To make the White Paper recommendations come true European and global collaboration is needed.

The White Paper is the result of a comprehensive analysis of the current state of medical research within Europe together with an assessment of the new challenges facing Europes citizens, with changing patterns of disease, environmental issues as global warming, and changing demographic factors with an ageing population. The paper was launched at a meeting between Janez Potonik, EU Commissioner for Science and Research, and Professor Liselotte Hjgaard, Chair of the European Medical Research Councils in Brussels on 6 December 2007.

The White Paper key recommendations include:

  • Implementation of best practice for funding and performing medical research with distribution of funding in competition based on excellence and evaluated by peer review
  • Strengthened collaboration and coordination of medical research in Europe through the EMRC and its membership organisations, via the European Commission, the European Research Council and the learned medical societies
  • Revision of EC directives related to medical research
  • Implementation of equal opportunities for all researchers
  • A doubling of public funding of medical research in Europe within the next ten years to a minimum of 0.25% of gross domestic product (GDP)

Contact: Liselotte Hjgaard
European Science Foundation

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