Making a difference: Impact Report 2019

Medical research charities are committed to funding research that positively impacts people living with health conditions or diseases. For many charities, this is only made possible through public donations and so charities must let the public know how their money is being spent and what impact it is having.

The pathway to impact is rarely linear. Instead, it often involves many different funders and research teams over a long period of time. This cumulative nature of impact makes it challenging to track in an effective way.

AMRC is helping a number of our members use an online tool called Researchfish that allows them to collect data on the outcomes of their research funding over time. Collecting data in this consistent way allows us to pool data together from many different charities and perform an in-depth cross-sector analysis of the outcomes of the research funded by our members.

This report follows on from our initial 2017 impact report, incorporating two more years of data and new stories of how charity-funded research has impacted patients and society. The report is structured around the five areas of impact shown below.

For a PDF version of this report please contact our Communications Officer, Leo.

If you have any questions please contact our Research, Data and Impact Manager, Jocelyn.

With thanks to the Medical Research Council, Researchfish, and participating charities.


Medical research can be grouped into three broad categories, based on what is being examined. The majority of awards were assigned Health Research Classification System (HRCS) codes based on their title and abstract, which allows for stratification by research activity and health area. This coding was done either manually by individual charities or using an algorithm through Uber Research that “autocodes” the awards. It is important to note that the distribution of awards for each research activity reflects the charities using Researchfish and does not necessarily represent the distribution for all AMRC charities.

Of the awards assessed in this report:

  • Half were for cause research – focusing on examining aetiology or underpinning research
  • 40% were for cure research – focusing on detecting, screening and diagnosing, developing and evaluating treatments
  • 9% for care research – focusing on prevention, management of disease or health and social care research

It would be expected that different aspects of research would lead to different impacts, so as well as examining the outputs of charity-funded research across the 5 areas of impact, it is also interesting to see if there were any patterns that linked the kind of research being funded with the kinds of impact that were reported.

You can download a detailed breakdown of outcomes by cause/cure/care research activity here.

The average number of outputs varied across the different output types, so to compare, we need to look at the trend for each output. We have used two graphs to show this – one for outputs where the average was above 1.0, and one for where it was below 1.0.

Cause research activities led to the highest average number of the following outputs, which are evidence of building the knowledge base and advancing careers:

  • Publications
  • Awards and recognitions
  • Tools and methods
  • Next destination and skills

Cure research activities led to the highest average number of the following outputs, which are evidence of translation of research to products and the stimulation of more research:

  • Further funding
  • Partnerships
  • Medical products
  • Protected and licensed intellectual properties
  • Technical products
  • Spin outs

Care research activities led to the highest average number:

  • Engagement activities
  • Policy influences