Last week, Fri 7 March, was the public engagement day of the British Society for Gene and Cell Therapy (BSGCT) at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History.
Dr Tassos Georgiadis, UCL Institute of Ophthalmology has been on the board of the BSGCT since 2012 and chairs the public engagement sub-committee. The day provided the public with an opportunity to hear from a prestigious panel of scientists working at the forefront of gene and stem cell research as well as an opportunity for students to learn more about what it means to be a scientist.
“The day was a great success and everyone involved has said they really enjoyed it,” said Dr Georgiadis. “We had an eminent speaker panel who were able to talk from their own experiences of working on gene and cell therapies and to dispel many of the myths and misreporting we hear everyday. The audience seemed to really appreciate a chance to learn and hear first-hand why these are such challenging and time intensive treatments to develop.”
As well as getting to hear about cutting edge research there was the opportunity for attendees to meet, discuss and debate with scientists, patients, journalists and clinicians around the impact that research into genetic and stem cell therapies has for society.
It was extremely engaging to watch the public as well as GCSE and A-Level students grill the speakers with some highly challenging questions around the technology and ethics behind gene and stem cell therapies. And Adam Pearson, a Patron of Genetic Disorders UK, gave a really enjoyable and honest account of his own experience of living with a genetic condition and the need to ensure that researchers and clinicians keep the person and not the disease at the forefront of their mind.
Our congratulations go out to everyone involved, for a truly fantastic and inspiring event!
The Department of Genetics, UCL Institute of Ophthalmology will be holding their own public engagement day on 5 July 2014 for people with age-related macular degeneration (funded by the NIHR BRC Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Trust, the Macular Society and by a grant from the Wellcome Trust).
You will have the opportunity to share your experiences of AMD with charities, researchers and healthcare professionals. You will hear first-hand the progress being made in world-leading research into gene and stem cell therapies for AMD and other forms of macular degeneration and have a chance to discuss the focus for future research to enable us to further support the needs and aspirations of people living with AMD.
Check back at the end of March 2014 for information on how to register to attend.