Mismatch between research funding and what is needed to improve health, report finds

Professor James Wilsdon has led a new study calling for a rebalancing of healthcare investment in order to fund crucial research into factors that are known to significantly affect people’s health and wellbeing.

The Biomedical Bubble: why UK research and innovation needs a greater diversity of priorities, politics, places and people argues that the UK’s research and innovation sector needs a greater diversity of priorities, politics, places and people.

Published in collaboration with Nesta, the innovation foundation, the report calls for a more balanced distribution of research funding to align with crucial social, environmental, and behavioural determinants of better health outcomes.

The paper also calls on the newly-created UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) – an organisation that brings together the seven main research councils, Innovate UK and Research England – to look afresh at priorities and issues of balance across the funding system.

Such a move could to help realise the economic, social and health potential of extra investment in non-biomedical research and development (R&D).

Professor James Wilsdon said: “After decades of success, the biomedical sector is in danger of becoming a case study in how research and innovation policy go wrong.

“For the first time, this report sets out the evidence, facts and analysis needed to challenge the reliance on biomedical approaches. For too long, the pharmaceutical and biotechnology sectors have dominated policy thinking, meanwhile much of the wider innovation needed for the NHS, public health and social care has been under-resourced.”

Co-author Professor Richard Jones added: “Whether we look at the R&D pipeline of big pharma, the market for biotech startups, or the sustainability of the underpinning research enterprise, the biomedical model is in serious trouble.”