Researchers Welcome UK Rejoining The EU Horizon Programme

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Medical research organisations and charities have welcomed the news that the UK is to rejoin the EU’s flagship collaborative research programme Horizon. This will allow UK-based researchers to apply for grants and take part in projects under the programme, including those in under-represented areas such as brain cancer.

Britain has been excluded from the £85bn research programme since the official exit from the EU in January 2020. Previously, the UK was one of the most active participants in the programme. Although scientists have still been officially eligible to apply for funding, the process has been hugely hampered by red tape around data and cost sharing.

Now a deal has been made to allow the UK to rejoin Horizon, after a three-year delay as the Northern Ireland Brexit agreement remained mired in discussions and disagreements. The new deal is thought to be worth £2bn a year, with rebates if grants to UK scientists do not match this amount. 

Thomas Brayford, Policy and Public Affairs Manager at Brain Tumour Research, commented: “The association with Horizon is a huge win for brain tumour researchers across the country and allows them to build on years of collaborative research with their European partners.”

He added: “Importantly, it also ensures that the UK remains at the forefront of science and innovation.” Other non-EU countries, including Norway, New Zealand and Israel are also a part of the programme, and there is the possibility of Canada, Japan and South Korea joining in the future. 

Horizon is the largest medical and scientific collaborative research scheme in the world, and it allows individual nations to develop research projects at a far faster pace than they otherwise would have been able to. This is why medical research groups in particular have expressed their delight in the news that the UK is to become a full member once again.

Beth Thompson, Chief Strategy Officer of the Wellcome Trust, said: “Collaboration schemes make it a lot easier for scientists to work together across borders.”

She added: “This means really big collaborations such as the Human Brain Project, involving 500 researchers in 19 countries to help us understand how the brain works and how to address neurological problems, can take place with ease.”

“It can also mean researchers can come together to investigate things like rare diseases, at a scale that wouldn’t be possible within one country.”

“Collaboration is great for the vitality of science in the UK and elsewhere, and it’s great for new discoveries and innovation and the economy. But it’s also great for health and helping to solve the urgent health challenges the world faces.”

The news is particularly welcome for campaigners who have been calling on the UK government to improve the funding and clinical trial process into brain cancer treatment. Espite £40m over five years being allocated for this purpose in 2018, so far only £10.7m of these funds have been allocated to brain tumour research studies.

If you would like to find out more about brain cancer treatment and Gamma Knife surgery in the UK, please contact Mr Neil Kitchen of Amethyst Radiotherapy.