France tackles steep ‘decline’ in medical research with ambitious new plan

Mission launched to position France as global frontrunner in biomedical research and innovation
Mission launched to position France as global frontrunner in biomedical research and innovation Copyright Euronews/Canva
By Camille Bello
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The French nation wants to revitalise biomedical research, attract global talent, and become a leader in innovation.


France has launched a mission to "simplify, strengthen and make biomedical research more efficient", announced the Ministries of Health, Research, and Industry, on Thursday.

The plan seeks to enhance the global appeal of the country for researchers, doctors, pharmacists, scientists, and industrialists, alongside France’s position as a global frontrunner in biomedical research and innovation, according to the mission statement.

The announcement comes after Alain Fischer, the current president of the French Academy of Sciences, issued a report in January stating French medical research was in ”decline”.

“Insufficient resources, unclear strategy, complex organisation under an overly cumbersome administration, vocational loss… Whatever the indicator observed, for scientific research in general and healthcare research in particular, our country is falling short,” he wrote.

According to the report, France accounts for 2.8 per cent of international scientific publications.

That’s way behind the UK (4.5 per cent), Germany (4.3 per cent), and Italy (3.0 per cent)

Despite a growing volume of publications, France's share of world scientific publications fell by 34 per cent between 2005 and 2018, slipping from 6th to 9th in the rankings.

This was the second most significant decline among the top 12 countries, behind Japan.

In an exclusive interview with the French magazine L'Express, France’s Minister of Health and Prevention François Braun said the problem was not just “a question of money”.

“There's a lot of money on the table,” he explained. “Yet very often, scientists spend more time looking for funding than thinking about developing their product, which is not normal.”

“The train has set off, or at least it's setting off, and the challenge is to get on board and take our place in first class,” Braun told L'Express, alluding to the acceleration in biomedical research.

“We face a major challenge: transforming this research into innovations or breakthrough products. We've started to do this, but we're up against a number of obstacles, not least an extremely complex organization,” he added.

Officials expect "concrete measures" by October 2023, which would be implemented the following year.

The mission will be carried out with the administrations of the three ministries, as well the French National Institute for Health and Medical Research (Inserm) and the French Agency for Innovation in Health.

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