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Doctors issue warnings as lack of child health research adds to burden of adult disease

Substantial advances have been made over the last decade in preventing and treating disease, but discovery science and biomedical research, essential for the advancement of medicine, remain disproportionately focused upon adult conditions. This has prompted the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) to launch a Children’s Health Research Capacity Development Fund to support a growth in the number of child health researchers in the UK and abroad.

Failure to advance knowledge of the determinants of health in infancy and childhood will have catastrophic consequences on adult health in years to come, and is already adding substantially to the burden placed on health services, doctors say.

The Children’s Health Capacity Research Fund will support the career development and training of gifted young child health researchers in the UK and abroad and help them become the research leaders of the future. It will also help strengthen long term collaborative links between UK research institutions and centres of excellence abroad in order to benefit the wellbeing of infants’ children and young people around the world.

The Fund has benefited from an initial generous contribution from the David Baum International Foundation. It will sit as a distinct Fund within the RCPCH and will be administered by a designated board which will include the President of the RCPCH and an independent chair.

Professor Neena Modi, President of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said:

“There have been inexorable rises in the prevalence of chronic, debilitating, non-communicable disease in adult populations that are crippling health economies and systems. The origins of these conditions often lie in early development and the solutions require strong basic science and biomedical research that includes infants and children.

“The creation of the Children’s Health Research Capacity Fund will support the training of a new generation of children’s research leaders. It will complement and add value to funding streams that already exist within the National Institute of Health Research, research charities, and other organisations.”

Professor Neena Modi continues:

“We are delighted that following on from other initiatives that we initiated following our 2012 report ‘Turning the Tide’, we are now in a position to launch this new Fund.

“The UK is in a unique position in that it benefits from a clearly defined clinical academic training pathway and the organisational structures of the National Health Service, the largest and finest universal healthcare system in the world. Together these provide a platform to integrate clinical research and patient care, speed the translation of new treatments into practice and test preventative interventions rigorously. However it takes around 15 years after leaving medical school to train a clinical researcher. The creation of the RCPCH Children’s Health Research Capacity Development Fund will enable us to provide essential support to help talented young clinician and non-clinician scientists to become research leaders.”

Jake Baum, of the David Baum International Foundation, said:

“The David Baum International Foundation was established to continue the vision of the late David Baum, former president of RCPCH, to champion child health, its research and training. We share the Royal College’s desire to see an increase in the number of child health researchers and hope that our contribution will leverage further substantial funding from charitable organisations and private sources, securing a future in which UK and global health is underpinned by strong children’s research – something David Baum was passionate about.

“We look forward to seeing the Children’s Health Research Capacity Development Fund grow, and are delighted to support the RCPCH in championing child health in the UK and abroad.”