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Health minister, Lord O’Shaughnessy, in announcing a more influential role for academic health science networks, stated that ‘We have a fantastic R&D climate here…’.
It is a proud fact that the UK has, for decades, punched way above its weight in the biomedical research world and patients in the UK and the world over are the beneficiaries. Hardly a day goes by without the newspapers reporting the latest ray of hope in a broad array of diseases. The public, with a clear vested interest, loves a good news cure story no matter how far off the promise may be. The often substantial funds of medical charities are reliant on the consequent public and private largesse. The medical profession is no less spell-bound, awarding academia an exalted position that many would wish their discipline could attract. Journals abound and conferences are legion. So important is academia that special training arrangements are in place to encourage and support fledgling medical academics. It could be easily forgotten that the brilliance of the academic community is also manifest in its self-advocacy. Press interest is not an accident, it is an actively managed process by a very savvy research community who could have sat back and waited for funding and media interest to come to them. But where would funding be with helpless academics, disinterested politicians and an ambivalent public?
Medical leadership could not be more different and despite the fact that it must have been around as long as medicine has been practised; its major contribution has only been recognised formally in the past decade. Medical leadership enjoys less respect within the industry, minimal research funding and the media only acknowledge its existence (or lack thereof) when disaster strikes. Future medical leaders are often actively discouraged and training is ad hoc and sporadic; any …
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