By Carol Bewick, Head of Communications and Member Engagement, AMRC

Published: 1 January 2019

Is it really that time of year already? Time to look back over everything we’ve done and turn our faces to what is to come?

As 2018 draws to a close, I know that we at the AMRC can look back with admiration and just a little bit of awe at what our members have achieved in this last year. But we have no time to sit on our laurels. It’s time to think about the challenges and opportunities 2019 will bring.

I won’t mention the turbulent policy environment which will affect all of our work. We know that the one thing to be certain of in politics right now is uncertainty. I think I’ll just leave that there…

So, what can we be sure of? This is going to be a year of preparing for the future. Our next long-term strategy will start in 2020 and we must make sure our focus and priorities are in line with what you, the membership, need and the shifting sands of the landscape. We have already conducted research to find out what matters most to members. Over the coming months we’ll be exploring some of those themes in more depth to make sure we get it right and amplify the sector voice where it can have best affect for your supporters and patients.

Data and digital will be high on our agenda. Health data is becoming one of the most valuable assets of both the NHS and the many charities who host data registries. We have been working hard to create a guide, similar to the Essential Partnerships in Industry document AMRC published a few years ago, but this time we’re looking at partnering with tech or digital companies. It is also abundantly clear that the ethics involved in working with and in digital health are hazy. A number of frameworks exist – nearly 50 that could be relevant to medical research charities so we have been working through them to make sure there is something much more simple and relevant to you and your work.

As research develops at whirlwind speed, we know it is time to take a look at our principles of peer review and make sure they remain relevant in the changing research and impact world. We will be reviewing these principles throughout 2019 to keep the standards we want and need for AMRC membership to continue to be a badge of quality.

In the New Year we will be publishing our second big impact report showing just what impact we as a sector have. And I think I’m not breaking any confidences by saying – between all of our members our impact is huge. Keep an eye out for a shiny new impact animation to accompany the report and case studies with examples of what you are up to.

Patients continue to be up front and centre of everything we do. Increasingly we are shouting loud and proud to ensure there is better engagement with the public about things which will affect them and meaningful involvement in all aspects of research. For the third time in 2019 we will be jointly hosting our Patients First conference with ABPI but also this year we will have a third partner - NIHR. We are looking forward to another amazing and game-changing day. We know there were promises about the ABPI code of practice at the last conference so we’re looking forward to hearing what came next.

2019 has so much in store for us at the AMRC and for you, our members. We are really looking forward to working with you again next year – both ‘auld aquaintance’ and new. Happy New Year!