Fighting Blindness Supports Irish Scientists Call for Funding in Basic Research

Over 900 Irish scientists based both in Ireland and abroad have written an open letter to the government raising concerns about research policies and a lack of investment in basic research in Ireland. Fighting Blindness fully supports the calls made in the letter, which was signed by a number of Fighting Blindness funded researchers.

The letter highlights many issues in relation to the government’s current research policies, including a reduction in basic research funding in recent years in favour of investment in “commercialisable research”. While acknowledging the importance of applied research and welcoming the government’s sustained investment in this area, the scientists emphasise that this must happen in tandem with sustained funding in basic research which lays the foundation for innovation in the future.

The letter asks the government to reconsider current research policies, which scientists say are undermining their ability to carry out world-class research and provide expert education to future scientists.

Fighting Blindness has funded basic research in laboratories in Ireland for the past thirty years. A large proportion of this funding has been supplemented by government supported joint funding schemes and initiatives. This exploratory research has led to significant discoveries which in turn form the basis for further innovative research that can be capitalised on for the benefit of the economy. Over the past number of years, while overall state investment in general research was not cut, the budget for certain areas of research, such as basic health research has been significantly affected. Incremental cuts to the health research budget since 2009 are now impacting on these funding schemes and on the future of fundamental patient-led research in Ireland.

Fighting Blindness echoes the calls made by these world-leading Irish scientists and reiterates previous calls we have made for sustained investment in basic research and research infrastructure in Ireland. We ask the government to ensure that basic research is not overlooked and that the pipeline to innovation in the development of future research is given more consideration and support. The medicine of tomorrow depends on sustained investment in basic research today. We need to foster a supportive environment for this research and develop sustainable infrastructures for all research in Ireland. This is the cornerstone of innovation and is essential for future economic development in this area.

You can read a full copy of the letter on The Irish Times website here.