The Medical Research Council (MRC) and National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) have responded to the findings of an important report, for which Southampton’s Professor Alan Jackson was deputy chair, to address a critical need to invest in the UK’s nutrition research.
Southampton has been a key player in a major review of the state of nutrition research in the UK and overseas, which highlighted a growing concern that the UK is not fulfilling its potential, and recommended ways to ‘revitalise’ the field so the public and patients continue to benefit.
The Review of Nutrition and Human Health Research, commissioned by the Office of Strategic Coordination for Health Research (OSCHR), made a series of recommendations for how the challenges currently facing the field could be addressed on a national and global scale.
The report found that, despite the UK’s impressive track record in nutrition research, it was not fulfilling its potential. It highlighted a lack of coordination, leadership and training, and warned that the field was facing a potential crisis as fewer younger scientists entered the field and experienced researchers approached retirement.
It also recommended increased collaboration with industry, and a need for a global approach to fight the rise of diseases such as heart disease, obesity, cancer and diabetes in developing countries.
In their response to the report, the MRC and NIHR pledged to establish a new UK Human Nutrition Research Partnership of experts from academia, health research and industry to tackle the challenges raised in the report.
The MRC will be launching new funding opportunities to tackle the global challenges highlighted by the report, and is working with key stakeholders to develop a framework for engagement between researchers and industry, enabling them to work together so that research can lead to healthier products and improved nutritional support.