About Biomedical Research

Biomedical research, also simply called medical research refers to scientific research that is conducted with an aim to support the field of medicine. It plays the key role in development of new treatments and medications as well as evaluating their safety and efficacy. The knowledge in various fields of biomedicine that was obtained by researchers over the last 100 years significantly improved treatment, management and prevention of a number of diseases.

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Biomedical research is typically divided into two types: pre-clinical research and clinical trials. The first type focuses on research, development and non-human testing of new treatments. The second type of biomedical research, clinical trials involve human testing of safety and efficacy of treatments that have shown potential benefits for human health in pre-clinical research. Clinical trials are typically broken down into several phases starting with trials on a small number of volunteers and ending with testing of the treatment on hundreds or thousands of people over a prolonged period of time. Newly developed treatments and products are approved for general population only when their safety and efficacy is proven by the last phase of clinical trials. As a result, it often takes several years before a newly discovered treatment or drug becomes available to the general population.

As already mentioned earlier, biomedical research plays the key role in development of new treatments as well as public health, while the advances in medicine that significantly extended life expectancy over the last century are mostly a result of biomedical research. Some of the most important discoveries include antibiotics, insulin for treatment of diabetes, medications that lower high blood pressure, statins for lowering cholesterol, vaccines for a number of potentially fatal diseases, improvements and introduction of new surgical technologies, etc. The list of advances that improved public health as well as health of an individual is virtually countless. However, a number of challenges remain including cancer, viral diseases and obesity.

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Biomedical research is carried out by biomedical scientists wearing specialised protective uniforms as well as a number of physicists, chemists and physicians. They work at scientific institutes or centres and are typically specialized in one of many fields of biomedical research which include public health (further subdivided into preventive medicine, epidemiology and behavioural health), cancer, virology, genetics, endocrinology, molecular biology, cellular biology, etc. Biomedical research institutes and centres are funded either by the government or private companies. In the United Kingdom, governmental funds are distributed to the biomedical research institutes and centres by the Medical Research Council, while the largest private funder of biomedical research is the Wellcome Trust. The latter provides more than £600 million annually to scientists and research centres in a form of grants and funds. The main difference between governmentally and privately funded biomedical research is the fact that the latter is often motivated by profit rather than the research in the sake of knowledge itself although increased corporate responsibility has led to funding of “less“ profitable researches as well. Both governmentally and privately funded biomedical researches are strictly regulated and monitored by national regulatory authorities.