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£4.8bn was invested in UK health research projects in 2018, new report shows.

Published: 30 January 2020

The NIHR is pleased to announce the publication of the UK Health Research Analysis 2018, which provides a comprehensive view of the current levels of health-related research funding in the UK.

It reveals that, overall, £4.8billion was contributed to health research in 2018.

Authored by the Medical Research Council with contribution from the NIHR and 11 other public and charitable funders, the report collates data from 146 charity, professional and public sector organisations and over 22,500 individual research projects.

Basic science

The report outlines how half of public and charity support for health research was directed at ‘basic science’, which underpins further study or seeks to identify the causes and progression of disease. It is this discovery science that will provide a pipeline of new potentially transformative ideas, technologies and methods for the future.

Funding trends – areas of increase

Examining trends in health research, the report shows that while the largest overall funding increase in 2018 was for research into infectious diseases, the areas receiving the highest proportional increases in investment were those involved in translational research – the kind that ‘translates’ scientific discoveries into usable treatments and other healthcare benefits.

Early detection of disease and the development and evaluation of new treatments were other areas that received increased funding, with around £548 million invested over the last 14 years.

Cancer research continued to attract a substantial proportion of total funding, with high levels of charity support. Cancer is the disease that leads to the highest UK disease burden, according to the World Health Organisation.

Long-term view

This latest report is the fourth in a series published by the UK Clinical Research Collaboration (UKCRC), which supports co-ordination and collaboration between the major stakeholders that influence clinical research in the UK.

The report also charts changes in health research over the last 14 years. From 2004 to 2009, the report found that public and charitable support for health research grew, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.5%, then over the last ten years funding for health research remained, in real terms, almost level with aCAGR of 1.7% (2009 to 2018.)

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