BRUSSELS, Belgium (24 November 2023) — Humane Society International/Europe (HSI) recently hosted an online Roundtable during which participants addressed unsolved or emerging public health issues and unmet biomedical research needs that should be prioritized in the EU research and policy agenda, and strategic solutions that should be put in place to tackle them.

Over the past decade, the circulation of Calls for Proposals have served to bolster fundamental as well as applied research pertaining to human diseases. These research endeavors in turn have elevated our overall comprehension of disease etiology and mechanisms, fostering crucial scientific advances. Nonetheless, despite these efforts, the prevalence and impact of various diseases like dementia, cancer, and diabetes persist at substantial levels. Moreover, the attrition rate in drug development, particularly in regard to diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer’s, remains high.

Understanding the possible factors underlying contemporary and emerging public health challenges and identifying still unmet medical needs are critical to the advancement of bold and innovative research and policy intervention strategies.

The primary objectives of the discussion were to:

  1. Identify public health challenges and unmet biomedical needs (UMNs) that merit prioritization in EU research endeavors and policy agendas;
  2. Define factors contributing to the persistent lack of reduction in disease prevalence and incidence, including non-communicable diseases;
  3. Identify specific research initiatives that will require increased resources;
  4. Explore strategies to enhance the translational impact of EU-funded research, including and
  5. Evaluate policy interventions useful for addressing emerging or unresolved public health challenges.

In preparation for the roundtable, invitees were asked to participate in a survey to elicit feedback. The survey has been further shared through social media platforms to enlarge the audience of participants.

Several representatives of European institutions, public health organizations, pharma and research institutes, contributed to this stimulating discussion, in particular:

  • Pierre Deceuninck and Milena Mennecozzi, DG JRC, Joint Research Centre – European Commission
  • Sergio Di Virgilio and Christina Kyriakopoulou, DG RTD, Research and Innovation –  European Commission
  • Marco Fabbri, DG GROW, Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship & SMEs
  • Vilma Radvilaite, EIC, European Innovation Council
  • Jens Habermann, BBMRI-ERIC, European research infrastructure for biobanking
  • Gregor Burkhart, EUSPR, EU Society for Prevention Research
  • Erwin Roggen, ToxGenSolutions
  • Chiara Gerardi, Mario Negri Institute
  • Carlos Altuna, EHN, European Heart Network
  • Luca Emili, InSilico Trials
  • Hugh Laverty, IHI, Innovative Health Initiative
  • Pastorino Roberta, EUPHA, European Public Health Association
  • Paolo Lauriola, ISDE, International Society of Doctors for the Environment
  • Isabel Varela Nieto, CSIC, Spanish National Research Council
  • Luisa Ferreira Bastos, Eurogroup for Animals
  • Benoit Maisonneuve, NETRI – Digitizing human biology
  • Ioan Hanes, ELMO, European Lifestyle Medicine Organization

HSI/Europe’s senior strategist in Biomedical science Francesca Pistollato kicked off the roundtable with an introduction to the overall goals of the meeting and presentation of the survey results. This set the basis for discussion, which was conducted in accordance with the Chatham House Rule[1], in the main virtual room and in breakout rooms.

The assembled experts shared their insights and perspectives regarding the survey sand discussed the policy measures already implemented within the EU to address unmet medical needs and public health concerns. In addition, they exchanged views on past and ongoing EU research endeavors, projects, or funding calls that potentially hold significant societal impact.

Interested participants plan to collaboratively co-author a peer-reviewed article, accompanied by an executive summary encapsulating the discussion outcomes and recommendations for identifying priority biomedical research and public health topics within the EU research and policy agendas. A related goal is to foster enhanced connections and establish closer ties with EU representatives, as well as their coordinating bodies at the EU level and within Member States.


What do you think? Please share your thoughts and comments below. 

[1] Under the Chatham House Rule, anyone who comes to a meeting is free to use information from the discussion, but is not allowed to reveal who made any particular comment. It is designed to increase openness of discussion.


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