The 12 biggest public funders of medical research have increased their spending, according to a new report from UKCRC. The report analyses the research portfolios of 12 public and charity funders, including Arthritis Research UK, British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK and the Wellcome Trust, showing that they spent a total of £1.6bn in 2009-10.
This is a 50% increase in direct spend on health research projects by the 12 organisation when compared with spending in 2004-5. Part of this change was due to the research councils moving to full economic costing, but still shows an increase in real terms.
Using the Health Research Classification System, active research was classified by disease and type of research activity. By comparing the results with the 2004-5 report we are able to see, for the first time, how funders’ strategic decisions affect what research they fund.
Almost two-thirds of the spending on health research was still on ‘underpinning’ or ‘aetiological’ research. There was a twofold increase in spending on ‘prevention’, and an increase in spending on ‘translational’ research, particularly ‘treatment development’ and ‘treatment evaluation’. There were increases in spending on mental health (£46m in 2004-5 to £89m in 2009-10) and respiratory disease (£10m in 2004-5 to £28m in 2009-10).
The Heath Research Classification System is an openly available research management tool, which AMRC have used to classify our members’ headline research spend, as published in our annual review. We are now analysing members’ grants data using the system, with the aim of adding to this rich picture of research funding.