Responsibility and openness

Hilary Sutcliffe (RRI specialist) recently made me aware of an article by Arie Rip published in the Journal of Responsible Innovation. At the time of our twitter exchange the article was not openly available, so Stephen Curry (Open access specialist) sent me a copy. The article is entitled ‘The clothes of the emperor. An essay …

Making Science Public: 2016 blog round-up

This has been a weird and momentous year. For me personally and, even more so, for the world. In June this year we celebrated the almost end of the Making Science Public programme, which I directed between 2012 and 2016. At the end of September I retired, after working for more than 25 years at the University …

Origins of life; origins of synthetic biology

I was sitting on a train to London the other day reading a fascinating article on the early history of synthetic biology. In this post I just want to share some interesting insights I gleaned from that paper, as it’s always a good thing to know a bit more about the history of a field …

Meanings of RRI: The missing link between theory and practice

This is a guest post by Alasdair Taylor, Industry Programme Manager at The Royal Society, formerly a research chemist at the University of Nottingham. This blog post is based on the author’s article (co-authored with Sarah Hartley and Warren Pearce), ‘Against the tide of depoliticisation: The politics of research governance’, published open access in Policy & Politics. …

Responsible research and innovation in the UK university: the politics of research governance

This article by Sarah Hartley and Warren Pearce was first published on the LSE Impact Blog on 14 November, 2016 and is republished here under a CC BY 3.0 licence. *** What is science for? One answer to this might be “to answer questions about how the world works”. Sounds simple, but packed into these eight words are …

The Carbon Neutral Lab: Science, culture, values

This week we held our yearly Synthetic Biology Research Centre (SBRC) Strategic Advisory Board Meeting. The meeting took place in the Carbon Neutral Laboratory which houses the Centre for Sustainable Chemistry. This building has become quite famous because it burned down last year, was rebuilt and opened this year. I should say from the outset …

Gene surgery – Genchirurgie

On 22nd October 2016 Roland Jackson tweeted that he was going to Berlin to participate in a trilateral meeting of English (Nuffield Foundation on Bioethics), German and French bioethics committees on gene/genome editing. I tweeted back and asked whether there would be a report; he tweeted an older press release by the German Ethics Council …

CRISPR and genome editing: Real and imagined

For several years now there has been a buzz around a new advance in genomics called genome (or gene) editing. “Genome editing is the deliberate alteration of a selected DNA sequence in a living cell.” Scientists have been able to do gene editing for a while, but to find and replace any sequence in any …

iGEM comes to Nottingham

I recently mentioned the ‘word’ iGEM when chatting with a ‘lay’ person about synthetic biology; whereupon the lay person looked at me quizzically and wondered what an iGEM was. Was it like an iPhone, but for gems? Somebody who overheard this exchange chipped in with a comment that made us all laugh. He said that …

Science, utility and responsibility

The value of science for society and the role of scientists in society has been debated for a long time (and in this context the word ‘science’ generally refers to the natural, physical, biological sciences). Just recently the topic has crept up on us yet again. Some have argued that, in the context of climate …