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We at SRUK have been working towards becoming members of the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC) over the past year and are pleased to announce that our application was accepted at the end of April. This is a great achievement for the charity, as membership is the hallmark of quality research funding and considerably increases the value of grants that we award.
Our membership application was reviewed by the AMRC Executive Council, and our acceptance is a clear endorsement of the work we are carrying out and the processes we have in place for awarding grants. Universities, the government and funding bodies use AMRC membership as an indicator of quality. In order to attain AMRC membership, we had to meet a number of criteria including:
We strive to be transparent in our investment of funds raised, publishing details of grants awarded and informing you of progress made on projects we support via our website, e-news and printed SRUK News magazine. Our peer review process ensures that grants are awarded without bias and are based on the merits of the proposal, facilities available and ability of the applicants to carry out work to the highest standards. These are practices that the AMRC advocates.
As a member of the AMRC, the funding we award is eligible for the Charity Research Support Fund, which will add up to 28p to every pound we invest in universities. We will only have to pay the direct research costs for clinical research in the NHS, as the Department of Health will meet all costs for trail co-ordination and management, data collection and regulatory fees. As we are a small charity, this access to additional funding will make a huge difference to research projects we support.
The Charity Research Support Fund was set up by the government to partner charities, so charities can ensure donors' money is spent on research to develop treatments. The Fund provides universities in England with up to 26% more funding on grants awarded by charities. In order to be eligible for the Fund, and as part of our AMRC membership application, SRUK has published a research strategy and appointed a scientific advisory committee, who will review applications taking into account comments provided by external peer reviewers from the research community. AMRC membership also provides access to a similar partnership with the NHS through the AcoRD agreement, which means that charities do not pay the indirect costs of research listed above. The AcoRD guidelines were first agreed with the Department of Health in England but have since been adopted by Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Membership also comes with other benefits, such as free access to the research outcomes system Researchfish for 3 years, which will enable us to track the impact of our research. This system enables retrospective review of our research, as we can ask recipients of old grants to tell us what happened after a grant we have awarded as finished, e.g. whether additional funding has been secured or there are new projects such as clinical trials based on the results of pilot studies we have funded. The AMRC offers us training and support, as well as encouraging and enabling collaboration and shared learning with other charities. It also acts as a strong collective voice for medical research charities in the UK, increasing our influence on the government and other stakeholders.
As part of our AMRC membership application, we invited you to help us identify research priorities back in January, with the results being published in the April issue of SRUK News and on the website. Your top priorities have been incorporated into our 5-year research strategy. SRUK will focus on research projects that take us closer to finding a cure, improve the treatments available for Raynaud's and scleroderma, work towards an earlier diagnosis and improve the provision of care and services for people with the conditions.
AMRC membership has been awarded in time to positively impact the research grants we are giving this year. Details of successful awards will be published on the website and in the next issue of the magazine
Sue Farrington, SRUK CEO, says 'We are delighted that our application was successful and really proud to be a member of the AMRC. This accreditation shows that SRUK invests in quality research and gives another level of reassurance to our donors.'
'SRUK becoming a member of AMRC will raise the academic profile of SRUK, and of the projects that are supported, and will be welcomed by researchers and their host institutions,' said Chris Denton, Professor of Experimental Rheumatology at UCL and consultant rheumatologist with a special interest in scleroderma at the Royal Free Hospital in London. 'It endorses the organisation as a funder of important high quality biomedical research.'
You can find out more about the AMRC and the benefits of membership on its website at www.amrc.org.uk