Foundation system

British Heart Foundation advocacy for medical research funds

Charity-funded medical research supports more Scottish jobs than major sectors including hospitality, construction, fishing and financial services, according to a new report.

Every £1m spent generates £1.33m in gross value added (GVA) for the Scottish economy, placing the sector 4th out of 97, behind education, social care and services security.

Scottish charities contributed £122million to research in 2018, according to a Fraser of Allander Institute study, enough to support more than 7,400 jobs.

However, with charitable spending having fallen by 44% during the pandemic due to a drop in donations, concerns are being raised about future levels of investment.

Scotland is seen as a world leader in medical research, but lags behind England in funding the sector and a leading scientist has said this could lead to the country also falling behind in medical advances.

According to analyses, the Scottish government spends a third less per capita on clinical research than Westminster.

The report estimates that without charitable funding, government and other public bodies would need to increase direct funding by 73% to fill the gap.

The British Heart Foundation Scotland, which commissioned the study, said an extra £37million would be needed to bring the country into line with the UK.

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The charity’s appeal has been backed by leading scientists from the universities of Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Dundee and St Andrew’s.

The BHF is currently funding £60 million for research, entirely through public donations, at ten Scottish universities, supporting around 240 staff.

Professor James Leiper, Associate Medical Director at the BHF and Professor of Molecular Medicine at the University of Glasgow, said: “In Scotland we have this huge potential and fantastic track record in medical research, but if we don’t increase not the amount of money that goes into the sector in a targeted way, we will fall behind and become less competitive, not just against our colleagues in England and Wales, but across Europe.

HeraldScotland:

“In England they have the National Institute for Health Research to support clinical research and careers, while in Scotland we have a slightly different system.

“If we look for example at the way we support the careers of clinical researchers. We fund around £1.8m a year in scholarships through the Chief Scientific Office, while in England and Wales the NHR funds £100m.

“These are the people who are going to make the next round of drug discoveries, therapies and diagnostics and we are underinvesting in those people now, we are sowing real hardship for the future.”

Countries like Israel, South Korea, Sweden and Japan lead the rankings in public spending on medical research.

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About 60% of charities have had to reduce or cancel their support for early career researchers and qualified researchers due to funding delays during the pandemic.

The Association of Medical Research Councils (AMRC) has warned that the sector may not return to pre-pandemic levels for another 4-5 years, with potential implications for further advances in medical treatment in the UK and in Scotland.

Countries like Israel, South Korea, Sweden and Japan lead the rankings in public spending on medical research.

About 60% of charities have had to reduce or cancel their support for early career researchers and qualified researchers due to funding delays during the pandemic.

The Association of Medical Research Councils (AMRC) has warned that the sector may not return to pre-pandemic levels for another 4-5 years, with potential implications for further advances in medical treatment in the UK and in Scotland.

A 2014 analysis found that UK Research Council funding for medical research was heavily biased towards the South East of England.

In contrast, for funding allocated based on the quality of the proposals submitted, Scotland scored above average.

Professor Mairi Spowage, Director of the Fraser of Allander Institute, said: “This report demonstrates the important role charities play in funding medical research in Scotland.

“This funding is not only translating into progress in health, but also playing a key role in supporting Scotland’s economic growth.”

A Scottish government spokeswoman said: “We welcome the publication of the reports from the British Heart Foundation Scotland and the Fraser of Allander Institute.

“The Scottish Government recognizes the work done by charities to support health research here, and the importance of the life sciences sector to the Scottish economy.

“The Chief Scientific Office recently announced the outcome of Precision Medicine Alliance Scotland’s funding appeal, which includes a £10 million investment in four NHS-led research projects to tackle critical health issues. major importance.

“We will continue to work with health research charities to ensure the recovery and growth of NHS Scotland’s clinical trials portfolio, as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic.”