World-leading medical research at Newcastle University has been highlighted in a prestigious new publication.
The Medical Schools Council has published its Health of the Nation: The impact of UK medical schools’ research, which reports the very best medical research happening across the UK and its impact.
Examples of research cover the spectrum from clinical practice to global health and the economy. They are taken from medical schools’ submissions to the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, which recently revealed its results.
One of the publication’s highlights is Newcastle University’s breakthrough in the development of 'smart' drugs known as PARP inhibitors.
A team at the university, led by Nicola Curtin, Professor of Experimental Therapeutics, submitted their work to REF as they have not only developed and trialled the first PARP inhibitor, but also heralded a new era in cancer treatment.
As many as eight PARP inhibitors are currently being developed, and major companies have invested millions of pounds in clinical trials to date. Since 2008, more than 7,000 patients have been treated with the drugs as part of the trials.
Professor Chris Day, Newcastle University's Pro-Vice-Chancellor for the Faculty of Medical Sciences, is Chair of the Research Excellence Framework’s Clinical Medicine Sub-Panel and Deputy Chair of the Medical Schools Council.
He said: "The Research Excellence Framework’s focus on impact has shown how the benefits of medical research can be quantified in powerful terms, such as in lives improved and saved, costs cut to the health service and money put into the economy.
"But those numbers don’t mean anything without understanding the work that brought them about.
"Some of the case studies in Health of the Nation will be known to the public but many will not, and these are equally innovative and making huge benefits to the population right now, both in the UK and globally."
Examples of research submitted to REF span across all subjects, highlighting that the impact of clinical medicine is unmatched in the percentage of its research which achieved the highest rating of world-leading 4* grade and in its overall ‘research power’ - determined by multiplying average grading by the number of staff whose work was included.
Professor Sir John Tooke, President of the Academy of Medical Sciences, said: "Medical science benefits society in numerous ways, drawing on many disciplines both clinical and non-clinical.
“The REF impact case studies reveal how diverse and substantial those benefits are, positively influencing the nation's health and economy."
A large base of staff across clinical medicine, combined with a leading grade point average in their submitted work, is evidence of research that is significant in both quantity and quality.
Professor Iain Cameron, Chair of the Medical Schools Council, said: "The life sciences sector is the UK’s third largest contributor to economic growth with a turnover of over £50 billion. It is made up of many different kinds of organisation but the expertise that drives the sector comes from universities, the researchers who go on to work in companies large and small, and of course in the crucial work being done in the universities themselves.
"Medical schools play a key role here. In the UK we have the best academic institutions working with the best research companies and supported by an unrivalled research infrastructure from basic discovery to clinical impact, funded by the Medical Research Council, the National Institute for Health Research, the Wellcome Trust and others in the medical charities sector. It’s crucial for the nation’s health and wealth that investment in medical research and the broader life sciences sector is sustained."
Medical schools across the UK are producing world-class research, and the new system of assessing research quality in the UK, REF, provides a great opportunity to demonstrate the impact that this research is having.
published on: 12 March 2015