Europe ‘can’t agree a budget to fund medical research’

Research body claims lack of funding to pay for HIV and cancer projects ‘could distort’ results A lack of money is driving a decline in cancer research and may be “corroding” vital cancer cases,…

Europe 'can't agree a budget to fund medical research'

Research body claims lack of funding to pay for HIV and cancer projects ‘could distort’ results

A lack of money is driving a decline in cancer research and may be “corroding” vital cancer cases, eLife, an umbrella organisation of research universities, said.

In a report, the group identified a growing number of worthy research proposals that it said had not been funded for funding by the EU-funded eLife Biomedical Consortium (eLife Biocom).

Seven in 10 funded projects have not been at any point fully funded by the consortium. More than a third are believed to have been lost in the so-called “wild west” of early stage research.

Steve Johnson, president of eLife Biocom, which is funded by the European commission and founded in 2014 to further biomedical research, said: “Despite our best efforts, European leaders seem unable to agree a budget that covers the entire and sustainable cost of biomedical research, leaving vital projects potentially bankrupt and premature projects at risk of corruption.

“Our ability to recruit or retain world-class researchers is also being compromised. The lack of funding is driving a decline in cancer research.”

Johnson added: “A gap in the €3bn allocated to medical research through the EU’s ERC (European Research Council) appears set to undermine key medical breakthroughs that might turn the tide against cancer.”

A spokesperson for eLife Biocom said the research organisation’s annual report showed an overall reduction in the number of projects funded. However, she said that number had declined from 33 to 27 across the 26 EU member states for 2017-18. “We do believe the trend toward greater support for early stage research grants may have played a part,” she said.

“The rapid decline across the past two years in the level of funding to awardees, is part of the wider drop in the number of proposals approved.”

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