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Society responds to Prime Minister’s announcement on boost for UK research to tackle chronic disease

Published: 20 May 2018 in Society news

The British Pharmacological Society today welcomed the Prime Minister’s announcement of targeted support for research into chronic diseases. The Society also reiterated that there is a pressing need to ensure the UK develops the skills and workforce needed to deliver on the government’s ambitious vision for the life sciences sector and the health of the nation.

British Pharmacological Society President, Professor Steve Hill, commented:

In her announcement, the Prime Minister has articulated a vision in which the harnessing of new technologies and the targeting of investment may have a genuine impact on the early identification and treatment of chronic disease. This, together with the ambition to increase R&D spending to 2.4% of GDP, are hugely welcome.

Backing Artificial Intelligence (AI) as a key tool to enable early diagnosis of chronic disease is smart and timely. The use of similar technologies in a broader context must also be a part of the plan. AI can contribute to the repurposing of existing therapies to tackle new diseases, and it could be valuable in tackling the risks faced by our growing elderly population, who are increasingly prescribed multiple medications.

The government, alongside funding agencies such as UKRI, should now get behind a sustained programme of investment in education and training to build the skills we will need to deliver the Prime Minister’s vision. It also remains critical that the brightest and best scientists and clinicians see the UK as an attractive destination, and are able to live and work here without significant barriers to entry. That is far from assured at this present point in time.

Nevertheless, there is a welcome consistency in the government’s recent announcements on the role of the life science community in improving patient outcomes and contributing to a vibrant economy. Pharmacologists and Clinical Pharmacologists, who work in medicines discovery in the lab and delivery in the clinic, are well placed to support the government’s grand challenge programme. We look forward to playing our part in the coming years.