Industry-Sponsored Research Week
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Industry to play critical role in funding neurosurgery research

By David Schwartz
Published: August 15th, 2017

Three prominent neurosurgeons, writing in the journal World Neurosurgery, predict that industry sponsorship will continue to occupy a larger role in neurosurgery research as federal funding becomes increasingly scarce. They offer a positive view of industry-sponsored research, but also offer cautions regarding ethical practices and controls.

“It is likely that the role of industry in research funding in neurosurgery will continue to expand, whether by individual grants or by organizations such as the Neurosurgery Research and Education Foundation,” Loyola neurosurgeons Vikram Prabhu, MD, Russ Nockels, MD, and Douglas Anderson, MD, wrote. “We should nurture this relationship, regulating it carefully without stifling it.”

Industry has funded neurosurgery research for decades, they point out. “Through the years, it has brought advances to the medical field benefiting countless patients and the population at large.”

Industry funding also has resulted in occasional ethical problems. ”But these are the exception rather than the rule and they are constantly being addressed and rectified — at a local and national level and with ever-increasing scrutiny,” the authors note.

They note that the National Institutes of Health is the world’s leading underwriter of biomedical research, but obtaining NIH funding is so difficult that most research must find other funding channels. To obtain an NIH grant, a researcher must have an extensive track record, robust research facilities and a thriving program. Most grant applications are rejected, and most physicians do not have the time or training to master the art of grant writing.

Already, industry has superseded the NIH as the primary sponsor of clinical research. A 2015 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that between 2006 and 2014, the number of industry-funded clinical trials increased by 43%, while the number of trials funded by the NIH decreased by 24%.

The authors conclude: “Logistical and financial support for research from private organizations or industry should be welcomed, if the source is properly vetted and the proposed work is within the scientific and ethical confines of neurosurgery. Careful oversight and appropriate disclosure to avoid conflicts of interest are mandatory and physicians have to maintain the highest ethical standards. Organizations, such as the Neurosurgery Research and Education Foundation, play a key role; it may actually be best to steer precious research money through such entities.”

Source: EurekAlert!

Posted under: Industry-Sponsored Research Week

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