Life Sciences Research for Lifelong Health

Dialogue results and outcomes

The Babraham Institute’s public dialogue results are now published and can be downloaded here.  The study commissioned by the Babraham Institute and the BBSRC was supported by the UK government’s Sciencewise programme.
Through initial workshop activities and reconvened discussion sessions designed by dialogue specialist Ipsos MORI, members of the public shared their views on ageing, science and governance and the role of public engagement in scientific research.
The report highlights the key discussion areas and conclusions.  In it participants speak of the value of ageing well;
“We all said we wanted to stop the ageing process, but the more we discussed it, we realised its more about how do we make ageing better”, the need to understand human health; “If you have a better idea of how something works you have a better idea of how to prevent it [illness]” and the role of Babraham in this area; “We want [Babraham] to provide a progressive understanding of how its research benefits the future.”
The report also provides some clear guidance for Institute Director Professor Michael Wakelam and his Executive Committee.  In a section entitled views on strategy: Public Principles for science and governance, six principles are identified to inform the future science strategy. These state that BI’s research should:

  • Be fundamental, in-depth and a ‘building block’
  • Be fair, helping the greatest number of people and/or most vulnerable
  • Enable collaboration
  • Help people control their health through understanding
  • Work to increase quality of life
  • Bring commercial benefit
The views reported confirm BI’s belief that fundamental research is of utmost importance to society.  Fundamental research brings benefits to society because of its role in generating knowledge and in the long term preventing disease. As the report commented:
“Participants want BI to prioritise projects which might give people the knowledge to control their own health by giving them both understanding of how their bodies work and the tools to change things.”
Speaking about the study Professor Wakelam commented,
“This was an excellent and timely opportunity for BI to listen to public views to help in framing our science strategy.” He goes on to say, “The public dialogue project provided valuable insight into the areas of priority for the Institute, at both a scientific and engagement level, and the next steps are to consider how these can be addressed in our future plans.”

In a section on animal research, participants welcomed BI’s commitment to openness and transparency in this regard.  It was reported that participants felt on the whole that animal research was necessary to advance science and was acceptable when carried out ethically and when well regulated.  One participant commented:
“I think the more transparent it is, the more likely people are to be understanding and accepting, if people are able to access what research is being done.”
The exercise has provided BI with lots of considerations for the future, feedback on its work and identified priority areas.  Recognising that more needs to be done to tell the public about research of the Institute, one participant from Cambridge commented:
“The whole day has been surprising.  I didn’t have any idea how much research has been going on!”
Where another added:
“We want Babraham to provide a progressive understanding of how its research benefits the future”
This study will inform the Institute’s science and public engagement strategies for the next five years from 2017-2022.  

If you would like further information on the study or any of the points raised please contact Linden Fradet