Progress in medical research: leading or lagging behind?

IFMSA 2017

(IFMSA, 2017)

This article was exclusively written for the Sting by Mr Daniel Gomez Ramos. The writer is a first-year medical student at Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine in Cleveland, Ohio. He is also affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA). However, the opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

Several countries are constantly on the frontline of medical research with ambitious goals of advancing the cause for providing a healthier future for mankind. Similarly, there are countries who struggle to stay ahead. Surprisingly, a country that immediately comes to mind is the United States. A country which historically has been the center for biomedical research and innovation has been slowly declining due to lack of interest from the public and slashes in federal funding.

On the other side, a country who has been otherwise doing very well in terms of publishing a copious amount of research is China. In the past decade or so, China has been investing a vast amount of funding and time to lead the field of biomedical research. Per a 2015 article published by University of Rochester Medical Center, the US medical R&D spending represented 57 percent of the global total in 2004, but fell to 44 percent by 2014. Meanwhile, China has increased their percentage in said period.

If the US and similar countries want to keep a strong grip on their leadership role in the field of biomedical research, then there must be a driving force that would push leaders to do so. A strong factor that would urge leaders to invest would be an emergent public health crisis, in which leaders would divert attention to medical research and ensure there is additional funding to combat life-threating pathologies.

Many variables play a key role in medical research, such as who composes the leadership of a country. Current administrations at both China and the US have different agendas in respect to medical research. The US has a leadership that currently desires to cut funding, but Chinese leaders continuously find new methods of increasing their forces in the biomedical research world.

Albeit, the US has done an excellent job of moving forward in other fields of research, there must be a unified voice to also progress onward in the realm of medical research. If there is no strong commitment by leadership, then the US and other countries like it must accept the reality of being left behind by other countries such as China, Japan, India, and the likes.

This is critical for Western countries to maintain up-to-date. As a thought, rather than a few countries leading, all of the countries should strengthen their concerted efforts together to create a better future for medical research and a healthier world.

About the author

Daniel Gomez Ramos is a first-year medical student at Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine in Cleveland, Ohio. His desired specialty is interventional radiology. He currently serves as a national leader for medical student organizations, a peer reviewer for companies such as Thieme Publisher and Wolters Kluwer, and is involved with research specifically in ophthalmology and radiology. He would like to become a medical writer at the time when he is a practicing physician.

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