Report reveals benefits of EU-UK medical research partnerships

30 May 2017        

Category: Research


Partnerships between UK and EU medical researchers have increased the value of research, benefiting patients across Europe, according to a report that we've part-funded.

The report, commissioned by eight leading UK medical organisations, highlights how the UK’s contribution to research throughout the EU has fostered and strengthened scientific co-operation. 

As negotiations begin on a new relationship between the UK and the EU, it’s vital that they result in the best possible outcome for science and for patients across the EU. 

Clinical trials have benefitted from UK-EU collaboration

A key area of progress has been in international clinical trials, which have benefitted hugely from UK and EU researchers working together, especially those for rarer diseases where the UK leads the highest number of trials. As the number of patients with rarer conditions is low in each country, it’s only possible to recruit enough patients for clinical trials by carrying out trials across countries.

Progress for personalised medicines

A number of experts from across Europe were interviewed for the report. Many highlighted the UK’s ability to conduct translational research to discover new treatments and devices that can benefit patients across Europe. This has included the development of a new generation of genetically targeted personalised medicines through to interventions for wellbeing and mental health. 

Training the next generation of scientists

The UK’s role as a key trainer of scientists is also laid out in the report. Around 16,000 students from EU countries are enrolled on biomedical courses at UK higher education institutes. Around 20 per cent of EU nationals trained in the UK went on to take up positions in other European countries.

What did we say?

Simon Gillespie, our chief executive and President of the European Heart Network, said: “You need to work with the world’s best scientific minds and resources to produce world-class research. This report shows that our research has a bigger impact when it’s an international effort so it’s essential that the UK’s new relationship with the EU helps strengthen existing scientific links, encourages new collaborations, and maximises our ability to contribute to the global research effort.

“There are around 50 million people living with cardiovascular disease in the EU, including 7 million in the UK, which means a lot of people stand to benefit from close ties between UK and EU researchers. This is especially important in rarer diseases, where progress has been slower and international collaboration is essential to make the breakthroughs that are so desperately needed.

“Research is helping us to save and improve lives in every single country. By continuing to work together across borders we can make sure that progress is as rapid as possible.”

The report – The role of the UK in creating value to EU Science and health – was commissioned by Cancer Research UK, the British Heart Foundation, the Medical Research Council, Arthritis Research UK, MQ: Transforming Mental Health, Association of Medical Research Charities, Wellcome, the Academy of Medical Sciences. The research was undertaken by Technopolis.

read the executive summary