CSO Festive Message
19th December 2018
Ricky Verrall, Head of Chief Scientist Office shares his festive message:
“As we come to the end of another busy year, I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone involved for your continued energy, hard work and achievements in supporting research and innovation in health and social care and the wider life sciences sector. I cannot over emphasise the key role you all play in helping the NHS in Scotland to maintain its world class position and in making a significant contribution to Scotland’s economic growth. I hope you will find some time over the holiday period to reflect on your achievements this year and to take justifiable pride in all that you have done.
This year has been significant in many way. Whilst we continue to drive advances in medicine and science for patient benefit, the NHS 70th anniversary celebrations have also allowed us to reflect on the many fantastic accomplishments, milestones, innovations and breakthroughs that have been already been made in the NHS since its inception. We are living in a health technological age that was unimaginable back in 1948: MRI scanners, ultrasound, genome sequencing, precision medicine, transplantation and antibody therapies, to name very few. The pace of these medical advances is truly amazing and, with so many developments originating in Scotland, cements our reputation as a pioneer of medical and pharmaceutical research.
We have a proud history of transforming the lives of patients, in Scotland and around the world, but medicine and other therapies do not stand still and services must evolve to meet new patterns of care, increased demand, higher patient expectations and technological advances. Over the last year over 30,000 patients have participated in research in Scotland (with new Patient and Public Involvement Standards also launching earlier this year) and the top 20 pharma companies continue to place trials in Scotland. Of significance in 2018, was the launch of the first Motor Neurone Disease (MND) clinical drug trial in Scotland in over 20 years, building on significant commitments by Scottish Government to improve MND care and attract more trials to Scotland. We also brought together this year a summit of key leaders in Government (including the First Minister and Health Secretary), the NHS, industry and academia to consider how best to cement and develop further Scotland’s unique strengths in precision medicine. Actions from that summit will be taken forward in 2019.
Investment in talent and expertise underpin Scotland’s ability to attract more research across all therapy areas, and through 2018 we have welcomed applications to a range of NRS and CSO Fellowships in addition to collaborative fellowships with a range of research charities. Further investment in Scotland’s world class research facilities this year includes:
- A £15.8m Industrial Centre for Artificial Intelligence Research in Digital Diagnostics (iCAIRD), bringing together a pan-Scotland collaboration of 15 partners from across academia, the NHS, and industry to enable better patient diagnosis, treatment and outcomes.
- A new Scottish Centre for Macromolecular Imaging (SCMI), a collaboration between the universities of Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee and St Andrews, to support vital research into vaccine development, cancer, research and drug discovery
- A £1.7M Innovate UK grant to Stratified Medicine Scotland to develop new treatments for patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)
- A £1.5m Brain Tumour Centre of Excellence at Edinburgh Cancer Research UK Centre
- £4.2m to support further enhancement of genomics services in NHSS and to enable continued collaboration between the Scottish Genomes Partnership and Genomics England
This is a small snapshot of investments in Scotland’s collaborative research environment which help strengthen the ‘One Scotland’ message and boost Scotland’s position on the international stage. Encouraging work with Scotland’s development agencies through 2018 is also helping to ensure the vast strengths and assets that make Scotland a world-leading location for research and innovation are rightly given the recognition they deserve.
On the domestic front, we have also made some significant advances, not always easy, on working across the four UK nations to streamline the research environment and improve our international competitiveness. Work continues to improve compatibility for cross-border research within the UK and earlier this year a new mCTA was welcomed by Life Science leaders across the UK making it easier for life-changing medicines and vaccines research and development to take place across different parts of the UK.
I said at the start that this year has been significant in many ways and it would be remiss of me to end this message without acknowledging the challenges and uncertainties created by Brexit. The Scottish Government’s position is clear on the need to mitigate the risks to clinical trials, free movement of researchers and access to EU research funds, but uncertainty will undoubtedly continue into 2019 and we will need to manage change that will follow the UK’s departure from the EU on whatever terms EU exit might be based.
While I know this remains unsettling, I am confident that if we tackle the challenges ahead with the same energy and commitment witnessed this year Scotland will remain a world class research destination.
On behalf of CSO and NRS Management Board I thank you again for your hard work and commitment throughout 2018 and wish you a very happy and restful festive season.”
Ricky Verrall, Head of Chief Scientist Office