Medical research charities are increasingly focused, report reveals

Small and medium-sized medical research charities are becoming much more focused in the way they spend their funds, according to new research.

A report by the UK Clinical Research Collaboration, a partnership of clinical research bodies, analyses the spending of 29 members of the Association of Medical Research Charities, each with an annual research spend of up to £17m.

It shows that about half of the combined funds of the participating charities are spent on research into “understanding the cause and development of disease”.

The report also reveals that most charities spend the largest proportion of their funds supporting research in these areas. Ninety-four per cent of the charities’ combined funds are focused on “disease-specific areas such as cancer and stroke, rather than on generic research, which can apply to any disease”.

The study includes a breakdown of funds spent on research in 15 areas, including cancer, inflammation and immune system-related disease, and neurological problems.

“Donors, supporters and colleagues in the research community who work with these charities should be highly encouraged by this study,” said Simon Denegri, chief executive of the AMRC.

“Charities are becoming ever more strategic and focused in the way they fund research in the UK . They are clearly motivated by the desire to spend donations on research that will have the highest impact for their patient group and the need to do this in ways that are complementary to the work being funded by government and others.

“This study will be important to charities as they think about their future funding. I hope it will be a basis for collaboration with other funders and research organisations in the coming years.”

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