Public dialogue

The Institute has a history of using public dialogue approaches to enable meaningful engagement on a range of topics.


Public Dialogue on Research Involving Early Human Embryos

The most recent example of this was in 2023 where the Institute led a public dialogue exploring the public's hopes, fears, expectations, and concerns around the use of human embryos in research and the regulations governing such work. This was done as part of our involvement in the Human Developmental Biology Initiative and the project recevied co-funding through the UKRI Sciencewise programme

One aspect of these regulations is the 14-day rule. This is a limit enforced by statute in the UK, introduced in 1990, which applies to early human embryos that are donated, with consent, to research because they are no longer needed, or are unsuitable, for fertility treatment or embryos that are created for research from donated sperm and eggs. It limits the amount of time early human embryos can be developed in a laboratory for scientific study to 14 days after fertilisation and states that the embryos cannot be transferred into a person’s womb. As recommended by the International Society for Stem Cell Research in their 2021 guidelines, we are beginning meaningful public engagement to understand how people feel about this rule today.  

Over the course of multiple workshops, our public dialogue aimed to provide an updated account of where public hopes, concerns and aspirations lie, to take stock and explore current perspectives as well as how near-future scientific developments might be viewed by the public. This foundational piece of work was an initial step towards wider UK public engagement on this topic and provides direction to future public consultations and research. 

You can find out more about the dialogue and read the report on the HDBI website.


Public Dialogue on Genome Editing

In 2018, the Institute ran its second public dialogue on attitudes to genome editing as part of the ORION Open Science project.


Public Dialogue on Future Strategy for the Babraham Institute

In 2015, the Babraham Institute ran its first public dialogue project to discuss aspects of our research with members of the public. The dialogue covered key issues such as UK research funding allocation; how animals are used in the Institute’s research programme; which stages of a research project would be of most interest to a lay audience; and how the Institute engages with the public. You can read more about the report and its findings here.