Human Bodies: Animal Bodies Panel (Wellcome Trust 75th Anniversary)

Lest week I attended a panel discussion hosted by the University of Manchester and which was part of the Institute for Science, Ethics and Innovation (iSEI) 75th Wellcome Trust Anniversary events.

The panellists were as follows:

Professor Martin Bobrow CBE FRS FMedSci, Professor Emeritus of Medical Genetics, University of Cambridge

Professor John Harris FMedSci, Lord Alliance Professor of Bioethics, University of Manchester & Director Institute for Science Ethics and Innovation (iSEI)

Professor Nikolas Rose, Martin White Professor of Sociology, London School of Economics

Professor Veronica van Heyningen CBE FRS FRSE FMedSci, Group Leader/Joint Section Head, Medical and Developmental Genetics Section, MRC Human Genetics Unit, Edinburgh

It was an interesting panel and as a PhD Student I found it useful to hear different approaches and perspectives from those who are involved in policy recommendations and from different disciplines.

I found the comments on the role of non-human animals and hybrids in experimentation, and the need to balance the benefits against the methods we use to achieve our goal. Given the speakers it was also interesting to be able to engage with some very experienced people who have worked in these difficult areas for a number of years.

It also brought me a bit more up to speed on current scientific capabilities and some of the practical issues that policy considerations have to deal with. Issues such as the humanisation of non-human animals and the role they may play in the future. The issue of definitions was also highlighted and some potential difficulties in the future were discussed.

All of this served to raise particular problems that need to be resolved fairly soon in the mind of the audience and I think that it helped make me more aware of the practical issues that we have to try and resolve.

It was a great event and I think it such a series is a good way to mark the 75th anniversary of the Wellcome Trust’s foundation.

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