Helping Hands for Europe and Health?

The European Union needs you—or some of you. It is reaching out for independent experts to help advise on its health development programs, notably in cancer and in needy areas of regulatory science.

Right at the beginning of the year, it has issued a general invitation for input to its Cancer Mission, part of the EU's Horizon Europe research program, which is just getting underway. The mission is targeting improvements to more than three million lives by 2030, through prevention and optimized diagnosis and treatment. The chosen applicants will contribute to recommendations on work programs, project portfolios, communication, policy coordination, and key performance indicators. They will also assist the Commission in preparing related legislative proposals and policy initiatives.

The selection criteria include experience in areas such as innovation procurement or digital services and use of data, and expertise in specific fields such as prevention, screening and early detection, diagnosis and treatment, palliative care, ethics, health financing, or innovative healthcare design. Applicants also need cross-sectoral experience in scientific disciplines at European and international level, demonstrable independence—the requirements on preventing any conflicts of interest are extensive—and good knowledge of English. Ready to pitch in? Here's the link—with all the numerous forms to be filled. And since the deadline for applications is 2 February, right now would be a good time to start. (Don't forget to keep this columnist in the loop if you apply—and still more, if you succeed!)

There's a rather more leisurely timetable for engaging with another opportunity to keep EU thinking moving smartly ahead on needs in drug development, with an invitation from the European Medicines Agency for input into a series of regulatory science topics it has identified as needing further research. They relate broadly to the integration of science and technology in medicines development, collaborative evidence generation to improve the scientific quality of evaluations, patient-centered access to medicines, and emerging health threats and challenges – with an umbrella topic of enabling and leveraging research and innovation in regulatory science. These categories break down into around one hundred specific topics in the regulatory science research needs list that EMA has compiled from stakeholder consultations and interviews with chairs of its scientific committees and working parties.

The agency is aiming to stimulate researchers and funding organizations to consider addressing these topics in their research agendas and share their findings and results with regulators. "By engaging in the Regulatory Science Research Needs initiative, researchers and funders will be able to see their findings translated into regulatory practice, medicines development and public health," it says in an explanatory note. Researchers and funders are invited to get in touch with EMA if they are interested in one of the topics on the list or the initiative in general, and is organizing a webinar to inform patients, research groups and health professionals on January 18, 2022 to explain the scheme and how stakeholders can engage with it.

The year has barely started, and there were already so many things to be done that you had deferred until after the break—and now here's something else inviting your attention…So seasonal best wishes to ACT readers!