EULAR Rheumamap: Questions and Answers from the Political Perspective.

EULAR President Professor Iain McInnes discusses RheumaMap and top unmet needs in RMD research as new EU Commission convenes to develop Horizon Europe 2021 Programme

EULAR recently released an updated edition of its RheumaMap, its ‘research roadmap’ that aims to inform European policy makers, funding institutions, the broad scientific community and stakeholders about the most pressing challenges and exciting opportunities in RMD research. With EU commissioners preparing to set research priorities for the new Horizon Europe 2021 Research and Innovation programme, EULAR President Professor Iain McInnes discussed EULAR's RheumaMap and what it means for EU-wide research.


Q. Professor McInnes, explain EULAR's primary goal for the RheumaMap and why this research roadmap is needed right now?


A. There are more than 200 RMDs, affecting up to 25 percent of the population in countries across Europe. They are among the most prevalent causes of disability and lost productivity in Europe, eliciting huge cost burdens for national healthcare and social security budgets. EULAR developed RheumaMap in collaboration with stakeholders across the RMD spectrum—scientific societies, patient organisations, and health professionals—from all European countries. EULAR synthesised these perspectives to identify the most pressing unmet needs for people with RMDs, especially identifying the priorities required in several of the most common RMDs, such as rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis. Policy makers can now use the RheumaMap to make informed decisions about long-term planning.


Q. How can the Horizon Europe 2021 programme best address unmet needs for people with RMDs?


It is a matter of getting the European research community on the same page and establishing some form of overarching framework to deliver meaningful research offering insights that can lead to change. While we have some remarkably effective treatments for various RMDs, we still do not even know the causes of most of these conditions. Yet RMD-related research in Europe remains dispersed and generally not coordinated, which is a huge obstacle for progress. That fragmentation is primarily due to a scarcity of funding for research, or a lack of availability of funding from year to year. An EU-wide research framework, as the Horizon Europe programme was designed to be, can ensure that research is coordinated by assuring not just that the most important research is being conducted but that the funding will be there year after year to allow fruitful research to follow through. 


Q. Science and medicine frequently cross-pollinate to inspire advances in disparate fields. What are a few of the innovations in science and technology that policy makers should keep top of mind as they assign research priorities?


A. We urgently need an innovative programme to address unmet needs, ranging from the molecule to the population, as we establish our next steps in RMD research. But advances don't come only from the world of RMD research, or even from what you might consider traditional medical research. Computer technologies represent some of the most exciting opportunities in RMD research right now. Our lives have already been transformed in many ways by technology, and it is imperative that we apply these powerful tools to address serious health needs such as RMDs. Artificial intelligence, for example, which is showing promise in many areas of medicine, must be studied to achieve its greatest potential in RMD research and care.


Back to EULAR RheumaMap.

Questions and Answers on RMDs

A factsheet on rheumatic musculoskeletal diseases (RMDs)

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EULAR description on Rheumatic and Musculoskeletal Diseases (RMDs)

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RheumaMap downloads

Download the press release here

Download the RheumaMap summary here: RheumaMap Summary

Download the RheumaMap here: RheumaMap Full Version