11th January 2021 // Sarah McDonald
You may have seen on social media that we are supporting the #ResearchAtRisk campaign being run by the Association of Medical Research Charities, which starts today. We realise that in the current lockdown and the roll-out of the vaccination programme, this may not be the most prominent thought on your minds, but the campaign is making an important call for the government to protect charity-funded medical research.
We are backing this campaign because UK charities are the biggest funder of medical research in the UK. That means that you and everyone who supports a charity with a donation is directly contributing to funding medical research. In 2019, charities spent £1.89 billion on medical research, more than the total Government funding through the Medical Research Council and National Institute for Health Research combined. We know that you and others like you do this because you want to help myeloma patients have an empowered present and hopeful future through more effective treatments, increased access to the latest treatments through clinical trials, earlier diagnosis and, ultimately, a cure for myeloma.
The last year, and in particular the most recent months, have really drummed home the transformative difference that well-funded research can make. The efforts of many researchers and their institutions and partners have helped us understand the COVID-19 virus, enabled us to identify emerging new strains, and develop effective vaccines. It shows, above all else, that research is a huge team effort and funding the infrastructure and the dedicated people who are working away, often unseen, on creating new knowledge, answering questions and solving problems, can benefit us all. Research isn’t a one-off investment either: the work doesn’t happen in isolation and frequently knowledge learned in one area can be used to accelerate discovery in many other programmes.
The impact of the pandemic means that research charity funding is threatened and, unfortunately, is very likely to decrease. The impact of this means that less research will be done, fewer questions answered, and important breakthroughs for patients will take longer. Thanks to the amazing myeloma community, we are fortunate that we aren’t spending any less on research, but a reduction in funding to the research environment will impact everyone and that’s why we’re backing this campaign. If you think that charity-funded medical research should be protected you can show your support by adding your signature to the AMRC’s letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson to urge the government to provide vital funding to protect medical research and patients.