I wrote this last November, and I don’t know why I didn’t publish it. So I’m publishing it now…
Yesterday at work I went to a seminar about the relevance, joy and current developments in research administration. Clearly, as my job is now fully about supporting the research, I was very interested, hence the being there.
In the main it was a good and interesting seminar. A little bit preaching to the converted, given that the audience were Faculty staff (Medical & Human Sciences in a university which has as one of its key aims “doing more & better research”), but humour & self-deprecation included in an engaging and in no way too much personality way.
There was just one thing which made me go “But-”
At one point, the presenter said (and I paraphrase) “We do really loads of excellent research in the Manchester research cluster AND YET in the greater Manchester area we have some of the lowest health indicators in the country” (low life expectancy, early coronary deaths, many deaths from smoking and so on).
I was distracted for a while trying to draw a link between research into genetically inherited enzyme-processing problems and high incidence of lung disease and macDonalds-related heart attacks.
I can see how not having a healthy participant base to draw on could be problematic for research (thank you Ian for pointing that out).
Unless you’re specifically targeting research which is intended to address the health issues which are known to be a problem in Greater Manchester and making sure that any practices which are shown to be effective are disseminated into the practising health community, you can’t really draw that correlation. According to the presentation (again, very good – worth every penny) structures and organisation are being geared towards encouraging exactly that in Manchester, which is good.
As someone who is a northerner by inheritance & adoption, the large band of low health indicators which stretched across the Pennines from (apparently, roughly) Skem & St Helens to Chesterfield & Doncaster was troubling, plus the large Birmingham-shaped blob on the lady’s map were quite telling. It’s a map which I could stare at for hours, quite frankly. And more alarmingly, we’re just launching into a ConDem Coalition who are slashing budgets and allegedly have no concept of what it’s like to live in a deep red area.
The other interesting discussion which followed on from the seminar was what happens *after* the study. If it’s a commercially sponsored clinical drug trial, it’s not rocket science – the pharmaceutical company promotes it. But if it’s a change to current practices it’s essentially up to the investigator to disseminate that wisdom. I’d be interested to know, in general, how that goes. Watch this space!