Letter to the Committee Specialist from
Dr John Taylor OBE, Director General of the Research Councils,
following the Evidence Session of 13 March
Lord Sainsbury and I gave evidence to the House
of Commons Science and Technology on EQUAL on 13 March. I agreed
to provide the Committee with some additional material on how
the Research Councils strengthen areas of research, comparison
of USA and UK investment in research and UK performance in the
EU Framework 5 programme.
The Research Councils use a number of activities
to develop priority areas for research. As an example the MRC
has encouraged and appointed internationally outstanding scientists
at senior levels to work in the UK. These include Bob Millar from
South Africa as Director of the MRC Human Reproductive Science
Unit, Professor Weissamn from Switzerland to the Prion Unit at
UCL and Steve Reeders from US to the Medical Ventures Group. MRC
have recently introduced an International Appointments Initiative
to expand these activities further and will be announcing further
appointments later in the year.
UK AND USA SPEND
It is difficult to do a direct comparison of
UK and USA research in this area based on spend relative to GDP.
The USA National Institute for Health spent $486 million in 1997,
$598 million in 1999 and plans to spend $610 million through the
National Institute of Ageing in 2000. In 1998-99, the Research
Councils spent around £63 million on research into healthy
ageing and age related disease (this includes MRC spend on cancer
and cardiovascular disease).
|GDP 1998||Spend on|
research as %
|GERD 1998||Spend on research|
as % GERD
|UK £M||63 (98/99)
|US $M||600 (99)
GDP = Gross Domestic Product
GERD = Gross Expenditure on R & D
Although these figures are only a rough estimate they indicate
that as a percentage of GDP, the UK is investing at a similar
level to the US in this area of research.
FRAMEWORK 5 KEY
The indicative budget for the Key Action is some 190 million
Euros over four years. The first call has resulted in the funding
of 29 projects, at a cost of 40.2 million Euros. Of these, the
UK co-ordinate five projects and participate in a further 16.
The Commission has not been able to provide details of actual
financial commitment for UK participation; however based on proportion
of UK participants we estimate that about 7.5 million Euros has
been awarded to British partners.
Areas of research covered include:
Therapeutic approaches for Alzheimer disease and
Genes controlling longevity.
Genetic and behavioural risk factors for age related
Improved general practice care for older people.
Socio-economic determinants of healthy ageing.
These are all areas of relevance to extending quality of
life and the MRC was fully involved in developing the initial
The Biomed survey of ageing research in the EU has recently
been published. This shows the UK as second only to the US in
research presence in this area. A copy is enclosed for your information.
You may also be aware that an interministerial group was
established in June 1998. The Minister of State for Social Security,
Jeff Rooker, chairs this group. A full membership list is enclosed
at Annex A. The aims of this group are:
to ensure that the needs of older people are better
that action to help them is more effectively co-ordinated
to avoid duplication and to ensure that account
is taken of older people's needs in developing policy.
The group identified three key areas of action:
Active ageinglooking at practical
measures to help older people remain active through work, volunteering,
mentoring and supporting families.
Care issuesexploring ways to improve
the interface between health, social services, housing and transport.
Consultation and involvementlooking
at how Government can best engage with older people at a local,
regional and national level.
OST will be ensuring that outputs from research are reported
to this group.
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