New report showcases impact of UK medical school research


The Medical Schools Council, the representative body for UK medical schools, has published a new report titled Advancing health: The impact of UK medical schools’ research. Using case studies from the 2021 Research Excellence Framework, it showcases some of the innovative and impactful medical research undertaken by universities and medical schools across the UK.

The value of investment in medical research cannot be overstated. It brings benefits to patients, the NHS and the economy with real life examples highlighted in Advancing Health. While the case studies are presented in categories, many of the impacts extend across multiple areas, including reducing health inequalities, delivering cutting edge therapies, making treatments more efficient and cost effective and informing health strategies in developing nations.

The impact of medical research is highlighted by the UK’s scientific response to the pandemic; the development of life saving vaccines and therapies and the global leadership role the UK played would not have been possible without the existence of an effective research infrastructure to support it. As the country looks forward and focuses on growth and NHS reform, it is important that we utilise the potential that medical research can contribute to the health and wealth of the nation. The NHS now faces an ageing population with a growing number of complex health needs. Embedding research and innovation within the health system creates a better foundation to address these issues and ultimately benefit patients through early access to life-saving treatments and improved understanding of disease, leading to better patient outcomes and greater health resilience. The economic value of medical research is well known with clear evidence that it stimulates growth by creating jobs and generating consistent returns on investment.

None of this could be achieved without a strong research workforce and it is vital that the UK is able to grow and retain talent domestically, while also attracting individuals from abroad. A key group within this area are clinical academics – health professionals who undertake research and teaching alongside their clinical duties. Many of the case studies in Advancing Health have involved clinical academics but there is a growing shortage in this workforce that must be addressed. Without supporting clinical academics, especially early career researchers, we risk both our future research capabilities and our capacity to expand the medical workforce.

On the publication, Professor Patrick Maxwell, Chair of the Medical Schools Council and Head of the University of Cambridge School of Medicine, said:

“Whether it is through allowing NHS patients access to cutting edge treatment, influencing policies that can impact pressing public health concerns or encouraging investment and creating jobs for communities, it is clear that medical research provides tremendous opportunities to improve the health and wellbeing of the nation. In order to become a global science superpower, the UK must maximise these opportunities, and present itself as open for collaboration with the international scientific community. At home, bolstering the NHS must include research as a fundamental objective so that we are able to utilise the unique position of the health service, in particular its ability to recruit clinical trial participants, while at the same time futureproofing it against changing health needs. Importantly, workforce planning decisions should consider clinical academics and address issues that disincentivise clinical academic careers.  

“We are excited to share this report which highlights the potential of the UK’s medical research ecosystem if endorsed with the right investment and support. Celebrating our achievements underlines the importance of our work and our shared goal of better health for all.”

Read the full report: Advancing heath: The impact of UK medical schools’ research


Notes to editors

  1. The Medical Schools Council is the representative body for UK medical schools. The council is made of the heads of UK medical schools and meets in order to shape the future of medical education and research in the UK. For information about the work of the Medical Schools Council, please see
  2. For more information on clinical academic careers, visit
  3. For more information on this press release, please contact Fahmida Yasmin, Senior Communications Officer, on 020 7419 5430, or
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