Life Sciences Research for Lifelong Health

Concluding the dialogue

The Babraham Institute public dialogue exercise continued this month with a reconvened session which brought together the groups from the events held in Birmingham and Cambridge in July. Nearly all of the participants from the initial workshops gathered at Homerton College, Cambridge, for a day intended to build on some of the key areas of discussion at the preliminary meetings.

The first session explored the remit of the Institute while taking into consideration the priorities identified by the participants during the initial workshops.  An exercise using key words and phrases describing these priorities prompted a lively debate on how best to summarise them into a mission statement which adequately described the Institute’s research.

The four discussion groups were each joined by Babraham Institute scientists throughout the day and were central to the next two subjects for discussion; how research funding is allocated in the UK and how animals are used in Babraham’s research programme.

Discussion at reconvened SessionThe final session looked at how the Institute engages with the public and considered the range of its outreach projects. The day ended with an exercise which identified the stages throughout a research project where the participants thought that the public would be most interested.

Daniel Start from ScienceWise, observed "The public were very engaged with the different research areas and case studies. There were in-depth discussions about the importance of fundamental research in society, about how Babraham can contribute to medicine and society, and how the public should be engaged in the strategic choices of the future."

At the end of the workshop all the participants were warmly thanked for their contributions by Sarah Castell from IPSOS Mori, who had coordinated the dialogue process and by Dr Peter Fraser, Head of the Institute’s Nuclear Dynamics group, who had been closely involved throughout the project.

Sarah Castell commented “We run a lot of public dialogue exercises, and we found the Babraham discussions were particularly lively. The participants really took the trouble to inform themselves about the work of the Institute, and made some really interesting points, for which we thank them all. The Ipsos MORI team are carefully collating and analysing all the data from our events to ensure we give BI the fullest picture of public views.

The final report for the project, which has been co-funded by the BBSRC and Sciencewise, is due for completion later in 2015. It will be published on the Babraham Institute website and will inform both scientific and public engagement strategies at the Institute.