“Medical Research and its funding”- Dr Gustavo Catalan


Today it gives me great pleasure to post a short article written by Dr Gustavo Catalan. I am honoured that he gave me permission to include it in my blog and only hope that the translation does it justice.

Medical research and its funding

More than two thirds of research into medication is financed with private capital. And this means an annual investment of billions of Euros. Naturally, this alliance between research and the pharmaceutical industry entails undoubted risks, and perhaps it would be appropriate to mention that only 5% of funded clinical trials publish unfavourable results as compared to 38% of those with no economic support. On the other hand, the haste for data that can make a  profit from invested money– to commercialize the drug – might quicken the process to such an extent that undesirable mid or long-term effects could be overlooked. This does occasionally happen.

Nevertheless, collaboration with the industry does have undoubted advantages. Research, from “bench to bed” needs greater resources than the official institutions can normally provide, and although this technological or human transfer is essential, it is only the tip of the iceberg as reaching the clinical phases is just the conclusion of a long journey. In the end, marketing plays an essential role and, it is evident that, with innumerable interests at play, the trials that bring in a profit are considered more important than other studies which are not involved with the industry but perhaps ( epidemiological, sociological analysis…) may have a greater impact on the health of the population as a whole.

For the above mentioned the symbiosis between medical research and industry is so frutiful but at the same time so in need of strict ethical codes. To such an extent that, without hiding the demonstrated use of the aforementioned collaboration in the advancement of knowledge, a national policy of greater implication would be desirable, to avoid interested biases. And of course, more investment. Because it is completely unacceptable that the maintenance of a competitive scientific structure is left to the whims of the markets. It is unacceptable that health investment is dependent on, and even allowing for the greatest of tenacity, the initiatives of multinational companies and that the lack of incentives for the most qualified organisms, institutions and professionals has transformed health research into the “luck of the draw” linked to the prospects of profit.

Even if this is a highly complex topic it is still certain that the future, after the recent news of the financial strangulation of the CSIC or the well publicised health cuts, cannot afford us even the slightest whiff of optimism. However, we have no option but to continue to believe that luck will return to our side, although in talking about human lives – and not fortunes, of which the politicians are more and more familiar, and especially if dealing with their own – it may not be the most opportune.

Gustavo Catalán


Translated by Jonathan McFarland

An Introduction to Medical English

I have been working in the field of Medical English for the last decade, and have decided to put down some of my ideas on this blog, and to open it up to more people and more ideas; in other words start a community dedicated to Medical English in all its different forms and versions. The field of English for Medicine is an enormous one, but one that is of critical importance in this day and age.

I have dedicated the last decade of my life to helping doctors and health professionals on the island of Mallorca to improving their English. It has always seemed to me that the level of medicine practiced here is of a very high level, but that the lack of English is a great barrier. The aim of this blog is to break down this barrier, and also to export my ideas onto a broader stage.

I am interested in the whole field of Medical English, but particularly on the following: communication in medicine (between doctor and patient, doctor and doctor); medical writing, medical terminology, medical research, medical training and medical humanities. Currently I have two hobby-horses, the training of residents, and Clinical sessions in English in a non-English setting.

I am not medically trained but am trained as a teacher with a late interest in medicine. However, I believe that is an advantage as I can look into medicine as an outsider, albeit an outsider with a strong medical sensibility.

Likewise I think that my audience will be as eclectic, as I am aiming this blog not only at Medical professionals wishing to improve their English (this is not another blog helping you learn English, although this is obviously one of its aims), but at researchers, health librarians, teachers, linguists, medical educators, and in fact to all those who have an interest in health/wellness and language. So I am aiming at breadth; in audience and ideas.

I aim to make regular posts, but also want to have guest contributors from different fields, thus anyone is welcome to contribute. So if you wish to contribute please get in touch with me.

The content of the blog will be very varied, ranging from useful language in the Doctor to patient interview, false friends, how to give a presentation, the use of the passive in writing articles, phrasal verbs in health, and I will also link to articles that I have found interesting, or webpages of interest. I will also keep you informed of my recent work, and other things which may be of interest.

So please enjoy this new blog and do not forget to contact me if you wish to send a post, tell your friends about it and let us begin to make this an obligatory port of call for all those interested in the field of Medical English.