EU member states urged to support research

In collaboration with the Press Association

Professor Richard Sullivan, chair of the European Cancer Research Managers Forum (ECRM), has urged all EU member states to support cancer research.

Professor Sullivan, who is also Cancer Research UK's director of clinical programmes, said reducing the levels of bureaucracy and over-management would be key to furthering world-class cancer research.

The professor's comments accompanied the launch of the second European Cancer Research Funding survey, which looked at the funding of research into cancer and has confirmed Europe's standing as a major contributor to the global effort.

The report estimates that Europe attracts around 45.9 per cent of cancer-related pharmaceutical R spending and confirms a 38 per cent increase in the expenditure of non-commercial funding organisations in Europe since the last survey, whereas funding in the US has remained relatively static.

"Contrary to public perception, a phenomenal amount of cancer research is carried out in Europe, evidenced by the huge amount of cancer research papers being published here," Professor Sullivan revealed, insisting that the effort is "a truly global one".

"The possibilities for fruitful partnerships not only exist, but should be the basis for future long-term policy. We should not fail next generations in losing this opportunity," he said.

However, Professor Sullivan noted that while there has been a "real increase" in some member state funding - with nearly 60 per cent of member states increasing their funding for cancer research since the publication of the first survey two years ago - other nations have failed to commit.

"Indeed the major policy issue is the real differences in cancer research investment between the member states themselves, rather than the prevailing gaps in cancer research funding between Europe and the USA, which have been a driving force for EU policymaking to date," he claimed.

The expert urged all member states to play their part, noting: "It is clear that some governments are still failing to appropriately support cancer research.

"For these countries the need for specific policy actions to ensure a limited core of high quality research within their institutions - relative to their R budgets - is crucial if these member states have aspirations to become major locations for cancer research in the future," he added.

In addition, Professor Sullivan highlighted the negative impact of bureaucracy on research funding and productivity which, he claimed, remains "a critical issue".

"Over the last decade the fashion for ever increasing regulation across all domains - clinical trials, healthcare data, human tissue - has led to an undesirable increase in the unit cost of research in the absence of any tangible social benefit from many of these regulations," he claimed.

"Bureaucracy and over-management remain constant dangers to progress. Funding organisations and government policymakers must guard against these dangers and, where necessary, simplify and harmonise," he concluded.