Why I think that the proposal to remove publication portability from REF2021 should be scrapped

By Charlotte Dodson, Research Fellow at Imperial College London

Charlotte Dodson

“Do we know what’s happening about REF yet?” asked one of the participants at the departmental Principal Investigator (PI) meeting last term. There was a gentle shaking of heads around the table and we moved on. Shortly afterwards I knew the answer: the Stern Review (a UK Government-commissioned independent review into how Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 should be improved for next time) made its recommendations. There is now a consultation by HEFCE and its equivalents in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland on how best to implement these in REF 2021. Continue reading

When Ollie met Sci-Policy

By Oliver Summers, Project Research Officer, Government Office for Science

o-summersIn 2012, during the first year of my undergraduate degree, I received an email about an opportunity to question key political figures about science policy in the UK. This was the first Voice of the Future event, and I’ve been hooked on science policy ever since!

I’ve always been interested in science and politics, in fact before deciding to settle on studying biology at university I was considering a politics degree. I always thought it was a binary choice that science and politics were separate, but participating in events such as Voice of the Future revealed this isn’t the case. Continue reading

Post-Brexit science landscape – Parliamentary Links Day 2016

By Dr Aoife Kiely, Research Associate at the UCL Institute of Neurology

Intro panel
From left: Stephen Metcalfe MP, Nicola Blackwood MP, Jo Johnson MP, Dr Stephen Benn and Rt Hon John Bercow MP. Photo: RSB

The morning of the Parliamentary Links Day I woke up nervous. I’m not generally a ‘business formal’ style of scientist so the imposter syndrome fear of standing out, or going wrong loomed large. However, any nerves were dwarfed by my excitement to take part in the event and meet other delegates and find out what plans politicians had to support UK science post-Brexit.  Continue reading

A welcome decision on stem cell funding

The European Commission today announced it will not introduce legislative proposals to restrict funding for research involving stem cells.

We welcome this decision.

The Commission was required to consider the idea, following a European ‘One of Us’ Citizens’ Initiative that sought to ban all financing of activities that presuppose the destruction of human embryos, including stem cell research, within the European Union.

The Biochemical Society was one of more than 80 organisations to sign a Wellcome Trust statement against any such ban.

We signed the statement because we believe that stem cell research continues to be one of the most promising fields of biomedical research and offers the opportunity to greatly improve the health of European citizens. The funding ban proposed would have had a negative impact on research involving human embryos for regenerative medicine, reproductive health and genetic disease.

In its response, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, voiced a similar view: “Member States and the European Parliament agreed to continue funding research in this area for a reason. Embryonic stem cells are unique and offer the potential for life-saving treatments, with clinical trials already underway.”

Our Society recognises that stem cell research can be a controversial area of science. However, the issue has already experienced a robust debate, and the current framework for funding stem cell research, as part of Horizon 2020, was approved in just December last year. This framework allows ground-breaking and important research using all forms of stem cells, subject to it meeting fundamental ethical principles.

The Commission iterated that it would “continue to apply the strict ethical rules and restrictions in place for EU-funded research, including that we will not fund the destruction of embryos”.

Today’s decision is a good decision for science and health. We would like to thank the Wellcome Trust for driving a unified response from scientific bodies, patient groups and industry representatives across Europe. Their excellent work ensured a strong case was made to the Commission for keeping the status quo.

For further information, read:

If you want to know more about stems cells and research, visit our Sciberbrain website. There we lay out the issues and opinions on stem cell research (along with other scientific issues) to help you make an informed decision.