Letter: Effective funding of medical research

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The Independent Online
Sir: The article by Tom Wilkie ('Are science and charity too cosy?', 16 September) was timely in its urging that the balance between charities' and public funding of medical research needs to be addressed.

The fact is that to date there has been a so-called dual support system, in which taxpayers' funds controlled by the Universities Funding Council were supposed to cover a substantial part of the 'indirect' costs while the charities funded the 'direct' or incremental costs.

Financial capping of the UFC contribution has damaged medical and other research in our major research universities over the past few years.

Now we have a new organisation with this dual-support responsibility, the Higher Education Funding Council (for England). It is still developing its research funding strategy, but its current thinking, as expressed in a discussion document, is to withdraw dual support from charities' funded research. This is potentially disastrous to medical research.

It is indeed essential that William Waldegrave's White Paper should address this issue, and that the HEFC should refrain from inflicting damage on medical research until that White Paper has been produced and debated.

Yours faithfully,

DEREK ROBERTS

Provost

University College London

London, WC1

16 September

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