the Quality of Life through Research
The explosive growth in our understanding of the structure
and working of life has brought about vast new developments in health
care, pharmaceuticals, food and agriculture. But the challenges ahead,
from the reappearance of once-conquered diseases to the unsustainable
use of natural resources, leave no room for complacency.
gap between human activities and the capacity of the natural resources
upon which they depend is steadily widening. Environmental degradation
is feeding back into new health problems for society while health-care
costs spiral upwards, aggravated by an ageing population. The emergence
of new viral diseases such as AIDS - and the reappearance of once-conquered
diseases - is a global problem. Breakthroughs in the life sciences open
radically new ways to address these challenges. They can also boost
economic growth and employment by improving the competitiveness of our
industries - although they often raise new ethical concerns.
Europe, fortunately, has a strong tradition and an excellent record
in life sciences research at a national level. Less fortunate, however,
is the fact that scientific capacity at this level is often not enough
to cope with the increasing scale and complexity of life science research.
To make further progress at the cutting edge, Europe's research institutes
and companies must be able to draw on the resources of the continent
as a whole.
the European Union has been helping them do just that for little more
than a decade, the wide array of cooperative projects and research networks
it has supported have already revolutionised the way many European scientists
work and produced some startling results.
The Quality of Life and Management of Living Resources research programme
is intensifying this collaboration to break down the barriers between
researchers and companies in different European countries even further.
Like all programmes forming the European Union's Fifth Framework Programme
for research (1998-2002), it aims to turn Europe's scientific capacity
into competitive and marketable products which improve the quality of
life, reinforce the competitiveness of industry and protect the environment.
The programme's overall theme is to bring the life sciences closer to
both industry and society. While it does not ignore basic research,
it focuses most of its resources on a small number of "key actions",
each tackling a single major challenge facing European society - health,
the use of natural resources, and the competitiveness of industry and
employment. By marshalling Europe's scientific and industrial resources
in multidisciplinary, transnational research teams, it will play a considerable
part in improving the quality of our lives - now and in the future.