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Stem Cell Science: hope without the hype

28 October 2006

What: Public discussion event with leading ethicists and scientists
When: Tuesday 31 October, 6-8pm
Where: Biosphere Suite, Our Dynamic Earth, Holyrood Road, Edinburgh EH8 8AS

Media welcome to attend – please register – details below

Scientists believe that understanding the biology of stem cells will enable them to develop therapies for currently incurable diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Stem cell science raises significant ethical questions and there are real challenges in ensuring public expectations are in line with scientific reality. The main UK public funder of fundamental life science research, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), is holding a public discussion in Edinburgh on 31 October, where the public can meet leading stem cell scientists, ethicists and other experts to discuss the future direction of stem cell science and the surrounding ethical and social issues.

Participation in the discussion is free and refreshments will be served.

Confirmed speakers at the discussion include Dr Donald Bruce from the Church of Scotland Science, Religion and Technology Project, Gerard Porter of the University of Edinburgh Law School, Dr Matt Dalby of the University of Glasgow and Professor Mary Bownes of the University of Edinburgh. The discussion will be chaired by Dr Stuart Monro, Scientific Director at Our Dynamic Earth.

Professor Bownes, speaking ahead of the event, said: “Stem cell research holds out huge hope for many people suffering from incurable diseases. However, marrying public expectations of ‘miracle cures’ with the reality of scientific progress is a challenge we all need to address. The ethical and social issues surrounding this and other aspects of stem cell research require scientists to engage in a dialogue with the public. This discussion event allows anyone to discuss stem cell research with leading figures in the field and with major public funders of science.”

BBSRC and the Medical Research Council are also leading on a Research Councils UK public exhibition alongside the discussion event. The exhibition, Stem Cell Science – Hope not Hype is at Our Dynamic Earth until 2 November 2006 during normal opening hours. The exhibit describes how research is progressing, and how the Research Councils are listening and responding to public attitudes and opinion in this area of science. Admission is free.

ENDS

Members of the media are welcome to attend the event. Please register in advance with BBSRC External Relations – 01793 413368, e-mail: external.relations@bbsrc.ac.uk

For interviews with stem cell scientists and experts ahead of the discussion please contact BBSRC.

Notes to editors

Stem Cell Science – Hope not Hype is a Research Councils UK public exhibition led by BBSRC and the Medical Research Council. For further details about the Hope not Hype exhibition and for details of Research Council activity in this area please see the exhibition webpage.

For further information on Our Dynamic Earth please see: http://www.dynamicearth.co.uk/

About BBSRC

The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) is the UK funding agency for research in the life sciences. Sponsored by Government, BBSRC annually invests around £380 million in a wide range of research that makes a significant contribution to the quality of life for UK citizens and supports a number of important industrial stakeholders including the agriculture, food, chemical, healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors. http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk

Contact

Patrick Middleton, Head of Engagement

tel: 01793 413368

Matt Goode, Head of External Relations

tel: 01793 413299
fax: 01793 413382

Tracey Jewitt, Media Officer

tel: 01793 414694
fax: 01793 413382