Non-Academic Science : An Oxymoron

Puliyel J

I have been following the discussion on academic medicine, and have been impressed by your global approach. Thus you seem, not to be attempting to revitalize academic medicine in the UK but internationally, and such an approach is most likely to promote the science and health in general.

In India research is an essential component of post-graduate training. For the MD, or MS and the DNB (Diplomate of the National Board) it is mandatory to submit a research dissertation or thesis, besides appearing for written and clinical examinations. This research need not be PhD level seminal work, but it is in place to familiarize the candidate with research methodology, and the process of analysis and presentation of research.

I find that specialists-in-training are keen researchers, but they need mentoring and also the confidence that their mentor has the tenacity to carry the project through, up to publication. Research funding is not such a big issue, if research-data-collection and computation is done by volunteer-junior-doctors, who are keen on the experience and the glory of publication. This is not part of the MRCP requirements in the UK and I feel you forgo a unique opportunity to impart training in research skills.

We have of late become overly concerned about applying research to practice. The modern fad of producing CATs (Clinically appraised Topics) is axiomatic of this. (Jacob M. Puliyel, Noopur Baijal, Dherain Narula Evidence-Based Investigation into The Relation Between Sexual Intercourse And Pregnancy Electronic Letters Archives of Disease in Childhood 15 March 2004;742 ) The true measure of the impact of academic medicine is not how many people in the community utilize the research results, but the effect research has on the researcher and how it modifies his or her understanding and responses in medical practice. Academic medicine is far deeper and more involved than doing a CAT � it in fact provides the grist for the mills that churn out CATs

To my mind all science is scholarly and the concept of non-academic medicine is a contradiction in terms and akin to quackery. It is a sad commentary on our times that the term �academic� has now acquired the connotation; �not being of practical relevance�. The effort to revitalize academic medicine is to revitalize medicine itself. I hope you succeed in your effort to raise the profile of academic medicine and thereby that of the science as a whole. I will willingly volunteer time and energy to this noble effort