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A festive message from Professor Dame Anna Dominiczak

A festive message from Professor Dame Anna Dominiczak

20th December 2023

It feels like the blink of an eye since I was appointed as Chief Scientist for Health back in July last year. Time moves fast, but as I reflect on 2023, my first full year in post, and indeed the 50-year anniversary of the Chief Scientist Office, I’m proud of the progress and changes we are steering

Research, development, and innovation (RDI) is now clearly viewed as an enabler of faster recovery, reform, and sustainability – running parallel with our everyday drive for better treatments, devices, and services.

It is thanks to the commitment and collective efforts of our community that we are seeing this step change.

A change that is shaping national efforts to speed up the identification, and adoption of innovation, that is pushing us to attract and deliver more cutting-edge research, to strengthening our partnerships and the sharing of knowledge, expertise, and capability; and fundamentally to driving benefits for our patients, our NHS, and the economy.

This progressive, ambitious approach was evident at Scotland’s Health Research and Innovation Conference. This conference, the first under my leadership as Chief Scientist was an occasion to reflect on all that has been achieved since CSO was first set up in 1973, and I was delighted to be joined by former Chief Scientists who have helped guide this work before me. Importantly, it was also a chance to look to the future and the opportunities to accelerate science-driven innovation to support NHS transformation while delivering better care for people in Scotland.

Attracting senior leaders across Scottish Government and international experts, it provided a platform to truly showcase the strength and diversity of research and innovation activity across Scotland, and formed part of a suite of events, including our Techscaler and regional Innovation Hub event and the Precision Medicine Scotland 10 year anniversary all united in ensuring the most advanced science, treatments and technology can be fully harnessed to address current health and care challenges, and shape a modern NHS fit for the future.

Events may provide an opportunity to showcase achievements, progress, and strong partnerships - and the ability to come together again face to face has proved beneficial in strengthening relations across the sector; but it’s also about what takes place in the day-to-day to build the culture, the infrastructure and the opportunities to truly harness RDI.

As we enter 2024, the Chief Scientist Office will continue to lead an ambitious programme of work – investing in infrastructure and specialist staff; funding RDI through open competitive grant schemes, bespoke calls and open innovation calls; and supporting the development and adoption of innovative healthcare solutions.

Importantly this is underpinned by our ongoing commitment to developing the next generation of RDI experts and I’m really proud of the opportunities we now have available spanning pre-doctoral, doctoral and post-doctoral awards. Over 286 have been appointed over the last 10 years and with new schemes including the CSO NHS Innovation Fellowships, launched in 2022, and the new CSO NHS Researcher Development Fellowship launched this year we are resolute in our aims to strengthen the research and innovation culture in NHS, increase capacity in priority areas and protect time to contribute to, conduct and lead research and innovation activity.  

Of course, continuous collaboration across the triple helix partnership of NHS, academia, and industry creating a seamless pipeline from research and development to real-world implementation. I firmly believe this collaboration will result in transformative innovations for the NHS and will place Scotland firmly on the map for life sciences companies looking to invest in our world-leading knowledge base and take advantage of its many opportunities.

I’m optimistic that a modernised, resilient, and more sustainable health system is wholly within our grasp if we continue to work effectively and collaboratively – with limited resources its more vital than ever that we are all pulling in the same direction.

I very much look forward to working with you over the year ahead, but for now, on behalf of the Chief Scientist Office, I thank you all once again for your energy and commitment throughout the year and wish you a healthy and happy festive season.

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