Women's College Research Institute

Jump to body content

Scientists call for increased value and reduced waste in biomedical research

February 2014

Dr. An-Wen ChanHealth research has led to significant global health improvements. But according to an international team of researchers co-led by Dr. An-Wen Chan, Phelan scientist at Women’s College Research Institute, many more important discoveries could be made if the research community addressed inefficiencies in the way studies are designed, carried out and reported.

In January, Chan and his team co-led a series of papers in The Lancet that set out some of the most pressing issues in health research. The papers were also presented at a public symposium, sponsored by the U.K. Department of Health and The Lancet.

“Over one hundred billion dollars of research investment are wasted globally every year,” says Chan. “But much of it is avoidable. Our series of papers documents the extent of problems at each stage of health research and proposes systemic solutions.”

Chan co-authored the introductory paper and was the lead author on a paper addressing the inaccessibility of research information.

In his paper, Chan described how half of all research studies don’t get published, especially when they show negative results. When studies do get published, scientists often leave out key details about how their study was done. As a result, scientists and funders are not fully informed about what research should be done and how to do it; doctors may also unknowingly prescribe ineffective or harmful interventions to patients.

“In my paper, we put forward three recommendations for increasing access to research information,” says Chan. “We call on academic institutions, funders, journals, sponsors, research ethics committees, policy-makers and regulators to implement incentives and standards that will encourage scientists to fully share and report their studies. This will reduce the waste of resources and bias in health research and improve patient health worldwide.”

Back to February issue of Impact

Jump to top page
  • Fully affiliated with:
  • University of Toronto

  • A member of:
  • Council of Academic Hospitals of Ontario (CAHO)