Medical research impact detailed in new report

A selection of impact statements submitted by medical schools to the 2014 research excellence framework has been published in a new report

February 1, 2015

The report, by the Medical Schools Council, showcases the effect that medical research has had on people, policy and the economy.

Examples include the University of Bristol’s research into cot deaths that led to a change in advice to parents and a 54 per cent fall in related deaths nationwide.

Health of the Nation: The impact of UK medical schools’ research lists 40 of the “most impressive” 383 impact case studies submitted to the REF’s sub-panels on clinical medicine, public health, health services and primary care.

The stories are listed in four categories: improving clinical care, boosting the economy, delivering benefits to society and beyond borders, which focuses on international healthcare.

The report says: “Choosing the top statements from each medical school was made exceptionally difficult by the wide variety of high-quality case studies received. This quality – consistently high across all medical schools – is evidence of a thriving UK academic life sciences sector.

“Collaboration between medical schools and movement of researchers from institution to institution are crucial elements of many of the case studies we have featured,” it adds.

Other examples include research from the University of Liverpool that led to large-scale vaccination programmes against Japanese encephalitis in Asia, which prevented an estimated 214,000 deaths.

Chris Day, deputy chair of the Medical Schools Council and chair of the REF’s clinical medicine sub-panel, 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,” he added. 

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