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Paul Nurse urges government to back Covid-hit research charities

Image: University of Exeter [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Crick director reiterates calls for Life Sciences Partnership Fund to make up for £300m shortfall

The director of the Francis Crick Institute has warned of “catastrophic consequences” if the UK government fails to support the country’s medical research charities, which are estimating a £300 million shortfall this year as a result of coronavirus.

Speaking on Radio 4’s Today Programme on 27 August, Paul Nurse said one of the most unfortunate consequences of the coronavirus pandemic was the collapse of funding for biomedical research charities in the UK as charity shops have closed and fundraising events such as sponsored runs have had to be abandoned.

“These charities support a large amount of research in a wide range of different diseases but major charities like Cancer Research UK and the British Heart Foundation are expecting to lose 40 to 50 per cent of their income this year,” he said. “It’s frankly an existential crisis.”

As a result, he added, “clinical trials are being stopped, paused and delayed, research infrastructure contracted, damaging centres throughout the country [and] research teams built up over years being reduced or dismantled”.

Nurse reiterated calls for a Life Sciences Partnership Fund, a co-investment scheme that would provide a level of matched funding for future charity research over the next three years to make up for the expected annual £300m shortfall for medical research charities.