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Government urged to depart from 'disease-oriented' psychiatric R&D investment SNUH professor calls for ‘precision medicine-based’ research
  • By Nam Doo-hyun
  • Published 2017.03.21 16:19
  • Updated 2017.03.21 16:19
  • comments 0

Although the Korean government has expanded investment into the research and development of mental health area, its direction has failed to catch up with shifting paradigms, leaving room for improvement, an expert pointed out recently.

Professor Kwon Jun-soo of Seoul National University Hospital made these and other points in a report released by Korean Health Industry Development Institute.

“Korea has accumulated considerable levels of results and capability in basic researches through massive investment in brain science research and the research and development of technology to overcome diseases,” Professor Kwon said. “But a greater number of projects are still focusing on the existing diseases in Korea.”

The professor was saying that Korea has failed to keep up with the global trends, which have been shifting the focus of research and development to the early diagnosis and treatment of diseases and precision medicine-based paradigm.

Kwon noted the nation’s R&D investment scale is lacking compared with advanced countries, which makes it difficult to carry out innovative R&D projects.

“In budget allocation, too, the government has failed to make balanced and phased investment into the research and development of national mental health,” Kwon said. “It hasn’t made sufficient investment into mental health service, commercialization and diffusion policy, evaluation and standardization of the efficacy of treatment technology, and prevention and technological development to promote mental health.”

He pointed out researchers have continued to focus more on increasing the number of theses than innovative technology development. This was because research period for R&D investment was too short and assessment method concentrates more on quantity than quality.

Particularly Korean researchers have been challenging non-committal task focused on increasing the number of similar theses instead of trying to develop innovative technology, Kwon pointed out. That is because the research period into which R&D investment is made is too short and policymakers are making not qualitative but quantitative assessment.

“Currently, the system and infrastructure are insufficient to develop human resources concerning the research and development of mental health, and the technology gap among different areas has made it difficult to realize the organic connection of technology,” Kwon said. “The job security of expert human resources at levels of senior researchers or higher is frail, and there are not many opportunities to conduct independent researches, resulting in the outflow of the superior workforce. The government should urgently tackle the brain drain problem and lure them back home.”

Aside from some advanced countries, including the United States, however, most countries have failed to develop differentiated competitiveness in developing mental health technology, meaning Korea still has sufficient opportunities. “Given Korea has sped up to secure its research capability, the nation is likely to have a superior competitive edge through R&D investment and supportive measures in the long run,” he said.


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