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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 Europe’s 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 Europe’s 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 Potocnik, EU Commissioner for Science and Research, and Professor Liselotte Højgaard, 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)

Notes for editor
Professor Marja Makarow, Chief Executive European Science Foundation
Professor Liselotte Højgaard, EMRC Chair. Director Clinical Physiology, Nuclear medicine & PET, University of Copenhagen
What is ESF?
The European Science Foundation (ESF) was established in 1974 to create a common European platform for cross-border cooperation in all aspects of scientific research.

With its emphasis on a multidisciplinary and pan-European approach, the Foundation provides the leadership necessary to open new frontiers in European science.

Its activities include providing science policy advice (Science Strategy); stimulating co-operation between researchers and organisations to explore new directions (Science Synergy); and the administration of externally funded programmes (Science Management). These take place in the following areas: Physical and engineering sciences; Medical sciences; Life, earth and environmental sciences; Humanities; Social sciences; Polar; Marine; Space; Radio astronomy frequencies; Nuclear physics.

Headquartered in Strasbourg with offices in Brussels and Ostend the ESF’s membership comprises 77 national funding agencies, research performing agencies and academies from 30 European nations.

The Foundation’s independence allows the ESF to objectively represent the priorities of all these members.

What is EMRC?
The European Medical Research Councils (EMRC) is the European Science Foundation’s membership organisation for all medical research councils in Europe. The mission of the EMRC is to promote innovative medical research and its clinical application towards improved human health. EMRC offers authoritative strategic advice for science policy making, research management, ethics, and better health services. In its activities, EMRC serves as a voice of its Member Organisations and the European scientific community. EMRC disseminates knowledge and promotes the socio-economic value of medical research to the general public and the decision makers.

Press contact:

Sofia Valleley
European Science Foundation
1 Quai Lezay Marnésia – BP 90015
67080 Strasbourg cedex (FR)
+33 388 76 71 49
Science contact:
EMRC Chair
Professor Liselotte Højgaard, MD DMSc
Director, professor
1Clinical Physiology, Nuclear medicine & PET
Rigshospitalet - University of Copenhagen (DK)
+45 3545 4215 or +45 3545 1792

Thomas Lau | alfa
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