Select Committee on Science and Technology Written Evidence


Memorandum from Dr R J M Wilson and Dr D H Williamson, National Institute for Medical Research

  1.  The executive of the MRC insist that basic, translational and clinical research must now cohabit. Here is an example of recent research at NIMR that has come to fruition without the need for such a juxtaposition.

  2.  Malaria is an international disease and a global problem. It touches on several continents, it is important in military interventions and it affects many British people by their movements around the world. In these respects, malaria is an international problem just as much as cancer or heart disease. The solution requires international collaboration.

  3.  At Mill Hill we recently discovered, out of blue-sky research, that malaria parasites have a novel organelle of plant origin. Suddenly this explained why certain antibiotics are active against malaria in the clinic. More importantly it opened up insight into bacterial biochemistry inside the human parasite that was previously unsuspected. International trials of modified antibiotics in malarious patients now show promise for the advent of a new array of antimalarial drugs. This advance has come about because our lead was taken up by an interested and responsive international community of researchers. Affiliation with a local hospital in London did not enter the picture. It was not necessary.

  4.  The MRC's "vision" has a limited perspective compared to the reality of modern day science.

3 November 2004

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