The three biggest pharmaceutical companies with research and development operations in the UK - AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer - working with the British Pharmacological Society, have established a joint fund of £1 million a year for the next four years to support research in UK universities in the fields of pharmacology, physiology and toxicology.
The fund aims to maintain high quality in-vivo (animal) research relevant to the discovery of new medicines, and thereby support the training of new and existing scientists in the field.
The initiative has received a welcome from the Minister for Science, Lord Sainsbury.
"Developing and fostering new skills in pharmacology, physiology and toxicology is essential for the UK science base. The partnership between GSK, AZ, Pfizer and the British Pharmacological Society will provide valuable additional research funding which will help to maintain our current position of cutting edge excellence in this area," he said.
Research in animals remains a small yet vital part of medical research. While enormous steps have been made by scientists to develop non-animal research methods in medical research, there remains a scientific and legal requirement for research in animals before tests can start in human volunteers.
The availability of a highly-skilled workforce, and in particular scientists and clinicians, is essential if the UK is to remain an attractive location for investment in the biosciences. Innovative science is the core business of AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer.
All three companies are committed to helping strengthen the UK science base, and are building the Industry's links with UK universities and the Research Councils to achieve this. Discovering and developing new medicines and vaccines is a difficult and complex process, and doing it successfully is dependent upon being able to recruit graduates and postgraduates of the highest calibre from Higher Education. This new fund will help ensure the quality of the basic animal research carried out in British universities.
Grants will be made to institutions in the academic sector with the greatest expertise in this area, and which demonstrate the highest standards of animal welfare. The fund will complement existing government, industry and medical charity support.
The awards will be administered by the British Pharmacological Society and are open to pharmacologists, physiologists and toxicologists. Further details of these awards are available from British Pharmacological Society, 16 Angel Gate, City Road, London EC1V 2SG.
For further information, please contact:
GSK UK Corporate Media +44 (0)20 8047 5502
Pfizer Global Research & Development media relations +44 (0) 1304 616161
UK Communications, AstraZeneca +44 (0) 1625 513010