Mesothelioma research funding remained on the UK Parliamentary radar right up until the dissolving of Parliament on March 30th. An attempt by Mike Kane MP to amend the Mesothelioma Act via a Private Members Bill in order to introduce a research funding levy came to nothing when all outstanding Parliamentary business was terminated with the dissolving of Parliament.
An answer to a Parliamentary written question posed by Lord Wigley on what public sector funding there has been for mesothelioma research over the last 10 years, resulted in a curious response from the government on March 25th. In the time available to respond to the question the government stated that it had only been possible to go back over the previous six years, and in respect to funding provided by the Medical Research Council, the main medical research funding body which allocates over £840 million annually for medical research purposes, over £10 million had been awarded to mesothelioma related research. A link to the government answer can be found here.
I say the response is curious, because in a response to a Parliamentary question posed by Lord Alton in February on successful mesothelioma research funding applications made to the Medical Research Council in the last 10 years, showed only four successful applications were made for a total of around £1.75 million. A massive difference of some £8.25 million. A link to Lord Alton’s question can be found here.
But sadly even the response to Lord Alton’s question failed to give the true picture of actual dedicated mesothelioma research funds awarded by the Medical Research Council. Three of the four successful applications were for research fellowships, and two of these fellowships were jointly funded by the Mick Knighton Trust who provided £150,000. The fourth of the successful research awards was a grant of close to £1 million in 2013/14, and I am very grateful to Professor Paul Elliott who informed me that this award was not specific to mesothelioma research, but rather was made to help fund the MRC-PHE Centre for Environment and Health which provides core support for research and training in environment and health related matters.
So rather than the £10 million of research funding, dedicated mesothelioma research funding from the MRC over the last 10 years stands at about £600,000. It might be suggested that the failure to provide accurate figures on mesothelioma research funding rather epitomises the Cinderella status of mesothelioma in general. Let us hope that a new Parliament brings about a sea change in regards to both its status and levels of research funding.