In March 2012 the UK’s first National Centre for Bowel Research and Surgical Innovation (NCBRSI) brought together various research disciplines under one roof.
Its aim is simple – to make real strides in the management and treatment of bowel disease to Save Lives and Change Lives.
By their very nature, bowel problems are not generally something which are discussed very openly. Today bowel (colorectal) cancer is the 2nd biggest cancer killer, despite being one of the easiest to cure, as surgery can be very effective. Why? It can sometimes be difficult to diagnose, but there is no doubt that the reluctance of people to be open about bowel problems contributes to maintaining bowel cancer at the top of the “biggest killers” list. The reluctance to be open extends across bowel problems and helps to explain why investment in research across all bowel disease has not matched the impact that bowel disease has on hundreds of thousands of people in the UK alone.
An analysis of research spend across all major research funders, including large charities such as CRUK and British Heart Foundation as well as bodies such as the Medical Research Council and the Wellcome Trust established:
1) that surgery in general was severley underfunded, attracting 0.7% of total research funds (compare this with the 4,000,000 plus procedures carried out every year in UK hospitals), and
2) that the category “oral and gastroinetistinal” had one of the poorest ratios of research investment as compared with the burden of disease; and
3) that almost 70% of funds went into basic science (understanding normal functions and processes and the risk, cause and development of disease). The rest being split between diagnosis, development and evaluation of treatments, management of disease and organisation of healthcare.
Together with this lack of funding in our area, a research environment is needed which brings together major research disciplines to feed into each other and support real collaboration, particularly with the diagnostic, treatment and management field. For the NCBRSI this means:
Experimental medicine – investigation in humans to identify the cause of disease and to test the validity and importance of new discoveries and treatments.
Outcomes based research – clinical trials of novel interventions and surgical procedures to save lives and improve quality of life of people with chronic disease.
Innovation – in diagnostics and surgical techniques to better treat patients, save more lives and improve the quality of people’s lives.