Alongside their commitment to education, a core part of medical schools’ work is research. The development of new treatments, as well as improvement to current ones, is essential for meeting the population’s changing health needs. As seats of learning, universities are home to some of the best researchers and most innovative studies. They also have the strong links with the National Health Service which can allow these innovations to benefit patients.
Medical research can take many forms, from laboratory-based work on diseases to improvement in practice around public and mental health. It also has a huge impact on the economy: the UK life sciences sector generates over £50 billion in turnover, and much of this is connected to research undertaken in universities, particularly in medical schools.
At the national level, the Medical Schools Council is a means for medical schools to address demands for certain types of research and to have a unified voice in communicating with Government and research funders.
Public involvement in research
A growing number of researchers and organisations involved in clinical research are looking for patients and members of the public to get involved in their work. If you are thinking about getting involved or you have already decided that you would like to, there is a website, People in Research, which can help you make contact with organisations and researchers that want to actively involve people in shaping clinical research.
The use of animals in research
The Medical Schools Council is is a signatory to the Concordat on openness on the use of animals in research in the UK.
From the Medical Schools Council's Statement on the use of animals in research:
"Our members believe that good scientific research and open scientific research are reciprocal. It is therefore to the benefit of all that transparency and public engagement are made paramount in our members’ institutions, which conduct research to address the most important issues in medicine and patient care. This can involve methods such as clinical trials with human volunteers, computer modelling, use of tissue samples and, when necessary, carefully regulated research involving animals."
The full statement is available here.