From Lab Bench to Backbench
28 November 2016
Dr Joaquín de Navascués Melero from Cardiff University’s European Cancer Stem Cell Research Institute will be swapping a lab coat for legislation when he visits Dr Ian McKay from the Department of Health for a week at the House of Commons in Westminster. The week (23-26 November) is part of a unique pairing scheme run by the Royal Society – the UK’s national academy of science, with support from the Government Office for Science.
During his visit, Dr de Navascués Melero will shadow Dr McKay and learn about his work. As well as attending seminars and panel discussions about how evidence is used in policy making, Dr de Navascués Melero will also attend a mock Select Committee.
The visit will provide Dr de Navascués Melero with a behind the scenes insight into how policy is formed and how his research can be used to make evidence-based decisions. It will also give Dr McKay the opportunity to investigate the science behind his decisions and improve his access to scientific evidence.
The week will begin with a reception in parliament where Professor Brian Cox OBE, FRS, will explain why policy makers and researchers must work together to ensure the UK’s excellent science is used to improve people’s lives and tackle global challenges.
Dr de Navascués Melero said: “As a scientist I firmly believe that knowledge underpins progress, and is vital for informing better policies. For that to happen, there needs to be dialogue between scientists and politicians, and I am pleased to be participating in such a dialogue thanks to the Royal Society. I am looking forward to finding out more about how the Department of Health uses scientific evidence and how I could potentially contribute to this.”
Dr McKay said: “I hope that this exchange will provide Dr de Navascués Melero with an interesting opportunity to understand the policy-making process from a different perspective. Spending time in the Department will give an insight into the importance of scientists working within Government and how they relate to the wider research community.”
The Royal Society’s pairing scheme, which started in 2001, aims to build bridges between parliamentarians, civil servants and some of the best scientists in the UK.
Dr McKay will get hands-on experience of cancer stem cell research when he dons a lab coat to visit Dr de Navascués Melero at the European Cancer Stem Cell Research Institute next year.
Sir Venki Ramakrishnan, President of the Royal Society said:
“'Expert input can help decision-makers to respond to unpredictable, global challenges like pandemics as well as the more everyday problems like how to provide affordable care for an ageing population. By working closely with the research community on their doorstep, UK decision-makers can draw on the best innovative thinking around the world to inform their policymaking. The Royal Society pairing scheme, now in its 16th year, gives parliamentarians, civil servants and scientists the chance to build long-term relationships to ensure that excellent research and innovation taking place in the UK is used to improve people's lives.”