Bowel Cancer UK and Beating Bowel Cancer become a member of the Association of Medical Research Charities
This week, we became members of the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC). Our Head of Research, Julia Ambler explains who the AMRC are, why being a member is so important and how we got to this point.
Who are the AMRC?
The AMRC are a national membership organisation of leading medical and health research charities. With over 140 members covering a diverse range of medical conditions, the AMRC member directory reads like a ‘who’s who’ of the medical research charity world.
The association provides training and guidance on topical issues surrounding research as well as helping with policy and regulatory issues. They also bring members together, encouraging collaboration and shared learning, as well as highlighting the importance of medical research funding by charities. They are able to act as a collective voice on issues that are common to all medical research funders.
Why is AMRC membership important?
Having AMRC membership is seen as a hallmark of quality research funding. It means we are working to best practice and making sure we fund high quality research with the greatest potential to benefit people affected by bowel cancer.
Our membership assures researchers that we will assess grant applications in a clear and balanced way, demonstrates that we have direction and focus when making funding decisions and means universities where we fund projects may be eligible for additional funding to cover the indirect costs of research.
How did we become a member?
Since 2015 when we announced our ambitious new agenda to become the UK's leading bowel cancer research charity, we have been working to put in place all the processes required for us to apply for membership of the AMRC.
As part of our application, we needed to demonstrate we had a robust peer review procedures in place to assess the scientific quality of grant applications. To do this we have established a Scientific Advisory Board and Lay Review Panel who meet once per year to discuss each application. You can read more about how we fund research in our blog post.
The process of peer review can be lengthy, and it takes around eight months for us to assess grant applications and make a recommendation to our Trustees on which projects we could be funding. This investment of time is very important however, as it means we can be sure the projects we fund are high quality science, relevant for patients and have the potential to make a real impact on bowel cancer.
A published research strategy setting out how and what we intend to fund over the next five years was also a key requirement. As we’ve blogged about before, our strategy arose as a result of the Critical Gaps in Colorectal Cancer Research Initiative. By involving clinicians, researchers, healthcare professionals and patients we can be confident that the research we fund will have a real impact for people affected by bowel cancer. It should also give our supporters and donors a greater level of assurance that we have carefully considered how we should be investing the money that has been raised for the charity.
Finally, we signed up to the AMRC’s position statement on the use of animals in medical research. You can read our statement here.
So, what next?
Our next step is to complete the assessment of the grant applications we’ve received for our first grant round. We are excited to find out which projects we will be able to fund and are looking forward to announcing this in April!
The AMRC vision is charities delivering high quality research to improve health and wellbeing for all.