The British Heart Foundation (BHF) has launched a five-year strategy for research, including a commitment to sustain funding for the best researchers across all areas of cardiovascular disease (CD).
Half of all CD research in the UK was funded by public donations to the British Heart Foundation. The BHF’s new research strategy is also contingent on continued collaboration with government research funders. The BHF is calling for the government to continue its investment in research, which is not guaranteed after March 2016.
The BHF strategy contains six approaches to funding research:
- Investing in research talent by funding the best researchers at all career stages, as well as seeking to attract outstanding researchers from around the world.
- Supporting research into all forms of CD, whether common or rare.
- Funding all types of research into cardiovascular disease, including laboratory studies, clinical studies and population studies.
- Supporting research collaborations across borders and disciplines, and working with other funders to support more comprehensive research programmes.
- Supporting research by informaticians, nurses, and allied health professionals, and help build research capacity in cardiac and vascular surgery and congenital heart disease.
- Investing in research aimed at facilitating the translation of BHF-funded discoveries into patient benefit.
To support translation, the BHF has launched a Translational Award, which will provide funding to make research discoveries ready for clinical trials. And the BHF has committed to funding more clinical trials that assess new or established treatments which could lead to better patient care.
As part of the BHF’s commitment to investing in the best people, the BHF will help women to stay in research. The review behind the strategy highlighted the underrepresentation of women in senior cardiovascular research roles.
For the first time the BHF will fund healthcare professionals, such as nurses, by establishing a dedicated grant scheme. This research is aimed at improved the quality of care for people with cardiovascular disease.
The latest BHF figures show that the number of visits to hospital for cardiovascular conditions, including heart attacks and stroke, is growing with 1.7 million episodes reported in 2013/14 alone. Figures have increased by more than 10% over the last ten years.
Peter Weissberg, Medical Director of the British Heart Foundation, says, “Research has provided the health service with the tests and treatments used every day to tackle heart disease. That progress, powered by BHF-funded research, has meant deaths from cardiovascular disease have more than halved in the UK since the BHF was founded.
“Our new research strategy outlines how over half a billion pounds will be spent over the next five years but progress will only continue with support from the public, the sustained financial input from the Government and close collaboration between all medical research funders.”