Tag Archives: Science funding

A funding model that works (for me)

I’ve been a strong critic of the bias towards project rather than people based funding in public grants for science research.  Now, I celebrate being the recipient of people based funding thanks to a combined initiative of the Emergency Care Foundation, the Canterbury Medical Research Foundation, and the Canterbury District Health Board. What has transpired is exactly what I believe the country needs much much more of, namely initiatives that get behind people and teams with broad goals and long term vision rather than narrow projects and annual funding angst.

Below is a press release.  Over the next 5 years I’ll share the ups and downs of the research we undertake.  I’ve already posted about a study I’m currently analysing the results of, which was designed to rapidly assess patients presenting to the ED with chest pain and to safely reduce unnecessary admissions to hospital.

On a more personal note I am grateful to Dr Martin Than (ED) who has championed this intiative and employed me to date this year, to Kate Russell and the CMRF board who have shown great support and helped to put this together, and to Carolyn Gullery and several others of CDHB Planning and Funding who have made possible those very important linkages and collaborations within the DHB. For the record, this is an 80%, 5 year, fellowship; I retain a 20% position with the University of Otago Christchurch, and will continue to undertake collaborative work with many research teams based there.

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MEDIA RELEASE

Health Board and Private Health and Research Foundations join forces to improve outcomes in Acute Care Delivery

The Canterbury Medical Research Foundation, The Emergency Care Foundation and the Canterbury District Health Board have put their collective might behind a new Senior Research Fellowship in Acute Care based at Christchurch Hospital.

The five-year fellowship will improve the quality of Acute and Emergency Care delivery at the hospital through targeted research and close collaboration with clinicians eager to see positive research outcomes translated into real-world clinical practice and, importantly, into improved patient outcomes.

The demand on acute services is large, around 140,000 patient visits a year across the health system. The challenge is to quickly, accurately and safely assess a patient’s condition and to ensure they access the services they need and don’t unnecessarily access the services they don’t need. The first projects this Fellowship supports will better identify which patients presenting to the emergency department with chest pain need admission and intensive monitoring, and who can be safely discharged home.

The Fellowship will be undertaken by Associate Professor John Pickering. Dr Pickering’s research has been cross-disciplinary. This began with the application of physics in dermatology and plastic surgery through the use of lasers in medicine, in particular he helped develop the use of lasers to remove birthmarks. Over the past seven years through he has advanced the diagnostic methods to detect acute kidney injury and most recently, has become involved in research to discover and translate into clinical practice, diagnostic protocols in the emergency department, particularly for patients presenting with chest pain and the possibility of a heart attack.

Dr Pickering sees medical science as a team effort involving, not only doctors, nurses, and scientists, but also the patients themselves, and funders. He is a keen advocate that publically funded research be made known and understandable to a lay audience through blogs and social media. He writes a blog on the Sciblogs.co.nz web site as “Kidney-punch.”

The Canterbury Medical Research Foundation and Emergency Care Foundation are delighted to be partnering with the DHB on a project that is likely to have long term effects on the delivery of acute care in the Canterbury Health system and further afield.

“This type of directly translational research that will give us definite and measureable improvements in patient care is something we are particularly interested in. Committing to five years will allow enough time for research findings to be properly utilized in improvement in practice patterns in real life clinical situations and that is very exciting.” Says Kate Russell, Chief Executive of the Foundation

“I believe that this is an excellent collaborative project to better integrate medical research with clinical care delivery. This initiative will actively facilitate the alignment of some excellent medical research that is taking place in Christchurch with the Canterbury District Health Board’s priorities and plans for improving care for patients with suspected acute, and particularly cardiovascular, illness” said Dr Martin Than, Emergency Care Foundation

For Canterbury DHB it represents an exciting era of partnering with private trusts and foundations to make inroads into issues of quality improvement and better outcomes for Canterbury people.

“We have already made significant progress in reducing acute demand on our hospitals, with more than 28,911 people receiving treatment and care in the community in the past year. This research will provide important evidence to support future decision-making about how, where and which services are funded and provided to ensure Canterbury people receive the right care, at the right time, in the right place, by the right person.” Said Carolyn Gullery, General Manager of Planning and Funding at the DHB.

ENDS
For further information please contact Dr Martin Than on Martin.Than@cdhb.health.nz

The science funding story continues

Heads up.  A few weeks ago I posted about the crisis in grant funding in NZ.  This led to a number of discussions with a journalist from Radio New Zealand.  Laura Bootham has shown great persistance in tracking down facts and people.  I look forward to hearing what she has come up with. She tells me:
 “The story on science funding airs on Monday around 7:20am but I recommend listening from 7:10am until 7:30am news as things are liable to change depending on what happens new-wise in the interim.”

Should governments fund science?

Just heard Julia Lane – an expat Kiwi and science economist speaking on Radio NZ about science and the economy.  She’s in Christchurch for a debate “Is Science Good for the Economy?” which can be heard tomorrow night as part of the ice fest – see here.

A few nice points she made (my paraphrasing).

  1. There is a challenge for governments in that returns from basic research are long, complex, and often in unexpected directions.  This is often different from government priorities which are focused on short term benefits.
  2. The principle reason for governments to invest in science is for the public good.  If there are high returns expected, then this is a place for the private sector not the government.  So called “failure” or “dry holes” as she called them are examples of public good.  If a private company invests in science that does not work as they hoped, they have no reason to tell the world.  Government funded science will tell the world, thereby enabling all businesses to make better decisions about where not to invest $.
  3. The reasons for government investment should be (in this order) 1) Formation of more science knowledge, 2) social gains (eg cleaner streams), 3) work force effect (trained in science people entering businesses etc), and 4) economic
  4. A current concern is that there is too much emphasis on bean counting (eg science judged on number of publications, patents etc – Take note HRC, Marsden, PBRF (my comment)).
  5. Better funding models seem to be ones that fund individuals and groups rather than projects.  She mentioned the Howard Hughes Medical Institute which has done this very successfully and talked of ANU and Uni Melb who have upped their game doing this.
  6. Nice phrase was that “Science involves creation, transmission and adoption of knowledge through networks of human beings.”  She thinks science funding should emphasise the people and networks.  An example is TNF alpha which was discovered in the 70’s by Dr Lloyd Olds at Sloan Kettering.  A trace study (no reference, sorry) showed that whilst Dr Olds never produced a drug based on TNF alpha, his networks using the knowledge he gained developed billions of dollars worth which have helped millions of people.