SCOTLAND, the birthplace of James Black, Alexander Fleming and nine other Nobel Laureates, is synonymous with excellence in research, global connectivity and innovative ideas.

Evidence from across the globe consistently shows that research is a cornerstone of all high-performing health systems, leading to better targeted and more personalised treatment and to improved patient outcomes.

Scotland has a strong track record as a health research nation and winning competitively awarded research funds, for example attracting 11.8 per cent of UK public sector and charitable research funding, representing about £240 million per annum.

Loading article content

Read more: Beyond Brexit - Free movement 'absolutely essential' to Scottish life science research

Evidence that the Scottish approach is working includes the recent announcement that the Stratified Medicine Scotland Innovation Centre, based in Glasgow, and AstraZeneca, a large global pharmaceutical company, will collaborate to study the genetic information of up to two million people globally to discover new medicines.

Edinburgh and Dundee universities also lead numerous EU Innovative Medicine Initiative programmes in areas such as diabetes, dementia and infections.

I want Scotland to continue building this sort of collaboration, which is at the heart of the Scottish Government’s health and social care research strategy. Our vision is for Scotland to be recognised globally as the natural home of health science.

The EU referendum result certainly has implications for all of this. For Scotland’s research sector, putting barriers on people, partnership, regulation and resources will squander opportunities and damage our reputation.

Read more: Beyond Brexit - Free movement 'absolutely essential' to Scottish life science research

International collaboration is essential for stepped changes in scientific knowledge and global impact. International collaboration is vital to our understanding of the genetic influence of common diseases. Membership of the EU has provided a vibrant ecosystem for Scottish researchers to collaborate on the best science, so that the knowledge we gain can be translated into practical benefits for patients.

With renewed vigour, we should build upon our historic strengths and continue to promote high-energy and creative collaborations between the NHS, industry, the charitable sector and academia. In this way we will share the benefits of success throughout our country and state clearly to the world that Scotland remains open for business.

Read more: Beyond Brexit - Free movement 'absolutely essential' to Scottish life science research

Professor Andrew Morris FRSE FMedSci is chief scientist (health) in the Scottish Government Health and Social Care Directorates and is also professor of medicine, director of the Usher Institute of Population Health Sciences and Informatics, and vice-principal data science at the University of Edinburgh.