ALF EVALUATION. Clinical research at the University of Gothenburg and Region Västra Götaland continues to maintain a leading position in Sweden, according to the Swedish Research Council’s new evaluation, which highlights the very high quality of the research and the well-built model for providing career opportunities to researchers.
Clinical research in our region is rated as highly as in the previous evaluation, with top ratings in two out of three categories. The evaluation indicates that clinical research remains at the highest level in Sweden in our region, along with Uppsala, which receives the same high rating.
Same high level
Agneta Holmäng, a professor and dean of Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg, notes:
“Naturally, it is positive to come out so well in an external evaluation with international experts. This validates the strong contributions of our successful researchers. Another important factor is the good collaboration among the academy, the regional medical system, Sahlgrenska University Hospital, and the private sector. The Swedish Research Council (SRC) particularly highlights the fact that we have developed collaborations with Chalmers University of Technology and industry, which is very positive. Since Sweden is a small country, we need to constantly broaden and strengthen our collaboration.”
The ALF system is the backbone of the University of Gothenburg’s collaboration with the region, particularly with Sahlgrenska University Hospital. Since the previous evaluation, the University has actively worked on improvements, including increasing support for clinical researchers. This has resulted in a resurgence of clinical research–a prerequisite for maintaining the good position in the evaluation.
Ann-Marie Wennberg, hospital director at Sahlgrenska University Hospital and a professor at the University of Gothenburg, notes that Sahlgrenska University Hospital conducts leading research in many areas.
“Now a national evaluation with panels international experts confirms that we are maintaining our national leadership and that our efforts are leading to results. When we work closely together within academia and healthcare, we improve each other and help elevate clinical research throughout Sweden,” says Wennberg.
Both breadth and depth
The evaluation that the Swedish Research Council has now submitted to the government assesses clinical research in all the county councils and universities covered by the ALF agreement concerning medical education and research.
“The Swedish Research Council points out that our region has both breadth and depth,” says Jan Kilhamn, head of research and development in Region Västra Götaland. “We are internationally competitive in a number of areas and make robust use of different sources in clinical research. This aligns well with our previous results, and we want to further expand the good relations between Region Västra Götaland and the University of Gothenburg.”
Strong life sciences
The following three main areas are rated on a three-point scale: quality of scientific output, clinical significance and societal impact of the research, and prerequisites for clinical research. For two of these areas (quality and prerequisites), the Council determined that our region has performed better than can be expected based on the allocated ALF funds, resulting in a top rating of “Very high quality.”
“The very good rating from the Swedish Research Council is a sign of strength for the life sciences cluster, which includes both the University of Gothenburg and the region. The development of this cluster is largely driven by clinical research,” says Eva Wiberg, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Gothenburg.
Top marks in two categories
Regarding the scientific quality in Västra Götaland, the Swedish Research Council writes in the report that there is a “wide range of subjects and demonstrated very high quality in observational and cohort studies with outstanding basic science and randomized controlled studies. A robust use of the Swedish registries is reflected in the high quality and validation of the scientific results.”
For the Prerequisites of Clinical Research area, the evaluation cites the collaboration with both Chalmers and SciLifeLab, an effective model for allocating time for research, and a well-developed model for career opportunities.
Positive national developments
At the national level, SRC notes that the evaluation shows that Swedish clinical research continues to be of high quality and that there has been improvements since the previous evaluation. SRC also points out that there is room for quality improvement measures in all ALF regions and calls for more and larger national collaborations in clinical research.
Through the ALF system, the Government provides funds to the county council as compensation for the clinical training needed for medical students. The funds are mainly used for clinical research in the county councils. In the Västra Götaland region, ALF funds amount to nearly SEK 500 million annually, half of which is allocated to projects that are mainly carried out by researchers affiliated with Sahlgrenska Academy.
The Swedish Research Council’s report “Evaluation of the quality of clinical research in the regions covered by the ALF agreement” is available here (in Swedish with summary and appendix in English):https://www.vr.se/analys/rapporter/vara-rapporter/2023-03-31-utvardering-av-den-kliniska-forskningens-kvalitet-vid-de-regioner-som-omfattas-av-alf-avtalet.html
BY: ELIN LINDSTRÖM & KARIN EURENIUS