Dec 6th, 2002
JUST a day after J K Rowling, the creator of Harry Potter, told The Herald of her anger at the lack of official funding for research into multiple sclerosis, ministers have signalled their willingness to consider bids.
Ms Rowling, whose mother died from the disease, said in an interview she was "perplexed and angry" that the Scottish Executive did not fund MS research. She herself is a major supporter of a £500,000 MS research group that opened in Aberdeen on Wednesday.
The best-selling author also claimed ministers had failed to set national standards of clinical care for MS. Her mother, she said, received intermittent and inadequate care in the 10 years of her illness until she died in 1990.
Yesterday, the Scottish Executive insisted it had received no bids to fund MS research. A spokesman added: "The chief scientist office would welcome proposals from the MS Society or any other organisation for research funding. Any such proposal would be subject to the usual peer group and committee review.
A lot of MS research is funded by the Wellcome Institute or charities. Mark Hazelwood, director of the MS Society Scotland, said: "If you talk to researchers their view is that if you put in applications for anything other than the executive's priorities - cancer and heart disease - you will not get funding. If there was to be a positive encouragement, that would be welcome."
Reaction from the world of neurological research indicated the chief scientist's in-tray will not be empty for long.
Jonathan O'Riordan, at Dundee University and Ninewells Hospital, said: "If there was money available in that field you would generally expect to hear about it. I am not aware that there is some pot of money, but then I haven't written in. Perhaps I should."
Professor Peter Kennedy, at Glasgow University's Institute of Neurological
Sciences, said: "I don't know what is available, but if it came to my attention
that monies were available I would be very interested."