Future of clinical medicine research is at risk, warns professor


Changes to the training of junior medical doctors, combined with the increased emphasis on clinical work in the new consultant contract will damage the future of clinical research in the UK, a University of Edinburgh Professor will state in his inaugural lecture on Tuesday,18 January,2005. Professor Andrew Greening fears that the ability to develop skills in research will be lost to many young doctors, whose faster training track will focus only on clinical activities. Also, younger consultants appointed under the new consultant contract will have fewer opportunities to be involved in clinical research, he will say.

In his inaugural lecture, Professor Greening, will highlight the key role of the academic clinician in helping to translate basic research into clinical application, as well as converting clinical observation into basic research. He says: "Research discoveries that have led to major advances in our ability to treat many diseases have relied upon the skills of both basic scientists and clinicians."

Professor Greening, an expert in lung diseases such as asthma and cystic fibrosis, will illustrate the importance of clinical science from the perspectives of clinical observation and of applying basic science advances to clinical need. In support of the former, he will describe how international asthma management guidelines were changed by challenging flawed research. In support of the latter, he will discuss the current UK gene therapy programme for cystic fibrosis.

He says: "The need for critical methods for determining the success of gene therapy in this disease has driven our group to use state of the art basic research techniques, applied to clinical specimens, to determine the severity of inflammation in the airways. By applying proteomic techniques, initially to washings from the lung airways and latterly to induced sputum, highly specific proteins relating to the disease and the inflammation have been identified. The same techniques have shown similarly promising results in other lung diseases including asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease."

Professor Greening's lecture is entitled: A Lung Physician: Lost in Translation? He adds: "The ability to conduct serious clinical research within the structure of the evolving NHS is vital to the future of advances in treatment of disease. The opportunities I have had to contribute should not be denied to the next generation because of false, politically motivated patient targets."

Source: Eurekalert & others

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