Changing balances: leaders of medical research worldwide

Un employé spécialisé l'Immunoglobuline travaillant dans un laboratoire

An employee specializing in immunoglobulin working in a laboratory. © European Union , 2014 / Source: EC – Audiovisual Service / Photo: Phlippe Huguen.

This article was exclusively written for the Sting by Hatun Mine Şahin is a third year medical student at the Dokuz Eylül University, İzmir, Turkey. Ms Hatun Mine Şahin is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Association (IFMSA). The opinion expressed in this piece belongs to the writer and does not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

Medical researches are consisted of some main areas that are basic researches, clinical studies, epidemiological studies and translational researches, which allow cooperation between pre-clinical and clinical studies.Talking about who leads the changes and developments in these medical researches, it can be evaluated by geographical areas.

Considering the number of publications and citation rates, there are some studies showing the statics of contributions of the leading countries, also giving idea howcountries have developed and will progress in the next years.

United States has been the center of global innovation in medicine for decades.Most of the articles published in biomedical research came from the United States.The output of every other single country in the world is dwarfed by what Americaproduces. Further more, not only is the U.S. producing more research, it isproducing a greater share of those publications with other countries. U.S. dominance is not shocking considering the behaviour of big drug companies, sucha s Novartis which is a Switzerland based drug company but chose to place its research headquarters in U.S.

On the other hand, many claim that the U.S. is steadily losing the ground to Asiaand Europe. If trends continue, it will relinquish its leadership in the coming decade. Particularly Asia is eroding U.S. leadership. There are different interpretations which give right to this coming future of science. Mark Michaud, from the University of Rochester, says that in 2004, U.S. medical R&D spending had represented 57 percent of the global total. By 2014, the U.S. share had fallen to 44 percent with Asia – led by China, Japan, South Korea, India, and Singapore – rapidly making up ground and increasing investment by 9.4 percent per year.

If current trends continue, the U.S. will be overtaken by China as the global leader in medical R&D in the next ten years. Grace-Marie Turner, from Galen Institute, also has a similar argument but this time with underlining the friendlier regulatory policies, lower taxes and other incentives to boost private investment in new medicines and medicaldevices in other countries. She stated the U.S. remained the undisputed leadership for now, but continued leadership was far from guaranteed.

Additionally, after Asia, particularly China, UK, Germany, France, Italy, Canada and Spain take place on the list of leading countries. Interestingly Iran is the country which has the fastest development in medical research in recent years , nearly catching up with Israel in the Middle East. Russia and Poland are falling behind. In South America, Brazil is the leader by a long way. Countries like India, Mexico and Arab nations in Middle East are lagging behind in medical research.

In conclusion, the leading role of U.S. for many years now is leaving its place to new nominees. Changing balances are effecting the classical view on the future holders of science and leaders of medical research.

References
https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/news/story/4233/u.s.-slipping-as-global-leader-inmedical-research.aspx

https://www.forbes.com/sites/gracemarieturner/2012/05/23/though-the-u-s-ishealthcares-
world-leader-its-innovative-culture-is-threatened/#60964ad77ebd

http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/india-lagging-behind-in-field-of-medicalresearch-pm-narendra-modi/

http://www.medimagazin.com.tr/authors/haluk-savas/tr-dunyadaki-biyomedikalarastirmalar-ve-turkiyenin-yeri-72-99-2526.html

https://www.forbes.com/sites/matthewherper/2011/03/23/the-most-innovativecountries-
in-biology-and-medicine/#2b46cc101a71

About the author

Hatun Mine Şahin is a third year medical student at the Dokuz Eylül University, İzmir, Turkey. She is a member of National External Affairs Team 2016-2017 of Turkish Medical Students’ Association, responsible for the work of IFMSA. She has been volunteering for IFMSA for two years. She is interested and actively taking part in scientific researches since high school. Besides, she is interested in visual arts and loves to do all sorts of water sports.

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