The UK pharmaceutical industry is passionate about the life sciences and we are always keen to encourage an interest in research. We recognise that the future of success for our industry and, more importantly, the future healthcare for patients in the UK, lies in the next generation.
Over more than 10 years we have built up a vast range of resources that we hope will inspire young people to pursue careers in the life sciences industry, to see themselves as the next Alexander Fleming or Louis Pasteur as our President John Kearney recently wrote in an article for the Guardian.
Our schools website has a huge number of free resources to help explain where medicines come from to genetic engineering, for ages 5 to 18, and, for those who feel inspired, there is masses of information on our careers website to encourage young people to consider one of the many different careers in the pharmaceutical industry.
However, even for those who don't aspire for a career in the life sciences sector, I hope that a better understanding of the sciences will stimulate an interest in the research that already takes place around us. The NIHR INVOLVE programme is dedicated to encouraging the public to have greater involvement in research through various initiatives, such as the NIHR Young Persons' Advisory Group (YPAG). Last May, the Nuffield Council in Bioethics' published a report on children and clinical research looking specifically at how young people can be ethically involved in research and made recommendations for young people, their families and for researchers to consider. In my role as head of Medical Affairs for the ABPI, I was invited to take part in a discussion about young people in research at the Nuffield Council. We held our first meeting in May to look at how, as an industry, we can support and encourage a wider understanding of the importance of research in the UK, especially for young people.
There is also work being done at a European level as well. The Innovation Medicines Initiative (IMI) is Europe's largest public-private initiative aiming to speed up the development of better and safe medicines for patients. IMI is a joint undertaking between the European Union and the European Federation for the Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA). One of the projects funded through IMI is the European Patients' Academy on Therapeutic Innovation (EUPATI), which aims to help patients understand the processes which underpin development of new medicines and to become more involved in the research of new medicines.
We are involved in these initiatives and work hard to provide these resources because we believe that no matter what a person's age or ability, we can all contribute in some way to science and research and the development of medicines. Not just for the benefit of the life sciences industry, but for the benefit of the NHS and patients.