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A New Manifesto For Medical Research In Europe

Public spending on medical research in Europe should be doubled over the next ten years to ensure the health and welfare of Europe’s citizens and to nurture a thriving medical research industry, according to an influential panel of distinguished scientists. In addition there should be greater collaboration between European institutions in medical research and improved career paths for medical scientists.

These are some of the main conclusions presented in a wide-ranging White Paper (policy document) released today by the European Medical Research Councils (EMRC) – the European Science Foundation’s membership organisation for all medical research councils in Europe.

The EMRC White Paper, ‘Present Status and Future Strategy for Medical Research in Europe’, will be launched at a meeting held in Brussels on 6 December 2007 co-chaired by Janez Potocnik, EU Commissioner for Science and Research, and Professor Liselotte Højgaard, Chair of the EMRC. The White Paper is the result of a comprehensive analysis of the current state of medical research within Europe compared with its global competitors, together with an assessment of new challenges facing Europe’s citizens, including changing patterns of disease, environmental issues including global warming, and changing demographic factors such as an ageing population.

The White Paper makes several key recommendations aimed at strengthening and improving medical research in Europe. These 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)

The EMRC White Paper recognises that the newer countries of the European Union require extra investment in research infrastructure to bring their facilities to the level of the older countries within the union.

Professor Højgaard said, “We believe that this White Paper presents a powerful case for the future strategy of medical research in Europe, which will benefit society in many ways and will improve the quality of life for the citizens of Europe and the rest of the world and meet the difficult challenges we are facing. A strong base in medical research will also lay the foundations for a more successful medical industry in Europe.”

Commissioner Janez Potocnik for Science and Research said, “What Europe needs is a more coherent, strategic approach to research at European level. This was the driving philosophy behind our Green Paper on the European Research Area, and one which the EMRC have taken up in their paper. That national medical research councils are teaming up to better organise medical research in Europe is a very significant signal. I look forward to exploring the EMRC’s ideas and help them deliver on their objectives”.

The Heads of Medical Research Councils in Europe, Editors-in-Chief of Medical Journals and the Presidents of Medical Learned Societies will be invited to debate the White Paper and propose actions to bring the EMRC strategy to fruition at a briefing conference on 30 January 2008 in Frankfurt.

Thomas Lau | alfa
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