June 9, 2004
Multiple Sclerosis Society
Clinical or patient orientated research involves human volunteers, either directly, as in a clinical trial or, for example, through interviews. Both basic (laboratory based) and clinical research are major areas of work for many neurologists. However, despite major advances in basic research over the last 25 years there has been a lag in “translational research” (a major part of clinical research) to transform discoveries and progress in the laboratory into potential treatments for patients.
A major barrier to increasing the amount of clinical research is the lack of time available from clinical researchers to commit to research. A recent survey found that only 18% of clinical researchers had more than 50% of their time “ring fenced” for their research studies.
Similarly, there is difficulty in recruiting trained clinical researchers and many doctors do not want to enter this field. Reasons given for this include high debts, the long duration of clinical training, high administration requirements and concerns about a lack of facilities for translational research.
This report highlights the need to increase the career opportunities for those involved in clinical research. This is already happening in the US through the development of new programmes aimed at improving the training of clinical researchers. This includes training in skills vital to clinical research, not routinely taught in medical schools, such as statistics, ethics and scientific writing. The report goes on to suggest that more work is needed to increase opportunities for those already working in the field of clinical research so that the quality and quantity of clinical research in neurology can keep pace with the basic science developments.
This article was published in Neurology, 2004. Vol. 62, pages 1051-1055.
Copyright © 2004, Multiple Sclerosis Society