Friday, 29 November 2013

13 clinical research centres launched with $16 million funding

In a Lancet editorial published today, Yang Zhe, Deputy Director-General for the Department of Science and Technology for Social Development, Ministry of Science and Technology, China, says the launch of the National Clinical Research Centres program will see 13 new clinical research centres launched with  initial funding of $16 million:

 "Over the past 5 years, China has increased its investment in scientific research by 20% annually, with funding of more than US$160 billion (1 trillion Renminbi) in 2012. In the Outline of the Twelfth Five-year Plan for National Economic and Social Development, the State Council declared that overall 2·2% of gross domestic product will be spent on scientific research. The Chinese Government's funding for medical research has increased accordingly, resulting in notable achievements. However, investment differs between biomedical and clinical research. In 2011, government funding for biomedical research was about $1 billion (6 billion Renminbi), but only $250 million (1·5 billion Renminbi) for clinical research. The investment in clinical research has lagged at a time when such knowledge is needed to address China's many health challenges—the growing burden of non-communicable diseases, soaring health-care costs, a rapidly ageing population, and changes in health behaviours and local environments.

To strengthen China's clinical and population research capacity and build a sustainable infrastructure to support clinical research for patients' benefit, the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) and the National Commission for Health and Family Planning (NCHFP) collectively established the National Clinical Research Centres programme in July, 2012. This programme will select the most outstanding clinical research centres in China that will benefit from substantial, long-term funding and policy support from the Chinese Government. MOST will invest $16 million (100 million Renminbi) in the first 13 centres by 2015 as the initial stage of the programme. The selected centres will not only produce high-quality science using rigorous methods but will also expand the national research capacity by creating sustainable research networks throughout the country to undertake multicentre and multinational clinical and population research. Multidisciplinary teams that include clinical medicine, computer science, mathematics, informatics, epidemiology, economics, sociology, and management science will be established in the centres. Additionally, the centres will promote international cooperation in health care. The aspiration is to create a mechanism to facilitate the exchange of ideas and knowledge to engage with the global burden of disease and global health. The centres will further develop China as a base for clinical research and an exporter of medical knowledge for the good of the international community. Cancer, cardiovascular disease, neurological disease (including cerebrovascular disease), respiratory disease, chronic kidney disease, and metabolic disorders constitute much of the current burden of chronic non-communicable diseases in China and are the first priorities for the selected centres. 115 hospitals applied for the National Clinical Research Centres programme. There was a 1-year evaluation process that followed international clinical research standards and set new standards in China. About half of the membership of the peer-review committees was from Hong Kong and outside of China. In August, 2013, MOST and NCHFP announced that 13 hospitals will form the first group of Chinese National Clinical Research Centres. From the start of 2014, centres will gradually expand to encompass gynaecology and obstetrics, gastroenterology, and other specialties, with MOST providing additional investment to fund these future centres. The 13 centres are mandated to formulate development strategies by 2015 and research plans by 2020. The centres will be rigorously evaluated every 2—3 years on the basis of the quality of their research activities and the relevance of the scientific evidence they generate for public health, clinical practice, and national policies in China. In addition, the strength of collaboration across centres and with international collaborators and stakeholders in different scientific fields will be considered in the evaluation. The results of the periodic evaluation will determine whether government funding to the centre is continued or terminated. The National Clinical Research Centre of Cardiovascular Diseases at Fuwai Hospital is an example of one of the selected centres. From 2014 to 2015 there will be $1·3 million (8 million Renminbi) investment from MOST, and Fuwai Hospital will provide 8000 m2 of working space and a multidisciplinary team of more than 150 full-time personnel dedicated to this centre. Before selection as one of the National Clinical Research Centres, Fuwai Hospital had already led national and international clinical research projects, including the influential COMMIT trial, in which 1250 hospitals across China enrolled 45 852 patients with acute myocardial infarction. The launch of the National Clinical Research Centres programme represents a new era for China's clinical research. It will aim to achieve the ultimate goal of improving health and health care through the power of science and its translation and application. The funding issued to the centres is just the beginning—a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step"

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