Author: Dr Samantha Walker
Date: 16 September 2016
On Monday 05 September Asthma UK launched a new ‘roadmap’ of research priorities in asthma at ERS congress in London. The culmination of three years’ worth of activity, the roadmap is a result of pan-European collaboration of people with asthma, scientists and the pharmaceutical industry who together developed and agreed a pathway that sets out how we should focus on and prioritise the most important areas of research and improve collaboration to transform the way we treat, diagnose and manage asthma.
Launch of the roadmap
We launched the roadmap, which was developed by the European Research & Innovation Partnership (EARIP) led by Asthma UK, at an academic symposium which saw 200 delegates congregate to hear from some of the key people involved in the project and explain the work underpinning the roadmap. First of all, Professor Sebastian Johnston (Imperial College, London) discussed the research needed to better understand the mechanisms of asthma to identify new therapeutic targets and new treatments for asthma. Prof Sven-Erik Dahlen (Karolinska Institutet, Sweden) then discussed the exciting field of phenotyping the different types of asthma and identified some of the opportunities and challenges the scientific community need to address to work out how we correctly identify the different types of asthma so that people get the treatments best suited to them. Prof. Luis Garcia Marcos (University of Murcia, Spain) spoke about the future of cutting-edge diagnostics and asthma self-management (including the potential for e- and m-health solutions) and then finally Dr Pippa Powell (European Lung Foundation) and Kjeld Hansen, who has asthma and was involved in the project along with many other people with asthma, spoke about the need for new and better treatments for asthma, and the details of the roadmap and how it was developed. The audience asked some interesting questions and gave very encouraging feedback about the importance of this work and how the priorities could be used to drive focus and collaboration across Europe and more widely.
Evening reception at the UK Palace of Westminster
That evening, over 150 representatives from research institutions, academia, research funders, the pharmaceutical industry and parliamentarians from across the political spectrum joined us in the House of Commons to here more about the asthma research roadmap. The event was a chance for all the people involved in asthma research to come together to discuss what part of the roadmap they could work on and how they could work together to advance it. Members of Parliament join us in our call and gave their support to see greater investment in asthma research across the board. Guests were welcomed with speeches from the chair of the all-party parliamentary group on respiratory health Stephen McPartland MP, chief executive of Asthma UK Kay Boycott and Professor Sebastian Johnston.
Technology-enabled asthma management roundtable
Our day also saw us bringing together around 40 of the most important players in mobile and e-health in asthma to discuss our recently launched report Connected Asthma. This report sets out the barriers and issues surrounding the increasing interest in and better integration of technology to support people with asthma. Chaired by Asthma UK’s Chief Executive, Kay Boycott, the group explored opportunities to work together to drive the development and adoption of new technologies to transform NHS asthma services. You can contact the technology team at Asthma UK at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested in finding our more about this work.
This is just the start of our journey to embed the roadmap in funding strategies, research work programmes and government agendas across the UK and Europe. Asthma UK will be playing its part in trying to drive greater investment in asthma research to power the roadmap, but we need your help. If you are interested in getting involved please email email@example.com or visit our EARIP page.
Dr Samantha Walker is Deputy Chief Executive and Executive Director for Research & Policy at Asthma UK. She is the co-ordinator of the EU funded EARIP research project and leads the research and policy team’s effort to see more investment in asthma research.