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University celebrates Wellcome Trust’s seventy fifth birthday

29 Nov 2011

Four renowned experts celebrated 75 years of the Wellcome Trust at The University of Manchester at an event to debate the ethics of biomedical research involving animals containing human material.

The scientists and ethicists lead a discussion to consider the opportunities and implications of biomedical research involving the combination of human and animal cells and DNA.
No tickets were left for the event on Monday, which was jointly organised by the University’s Institute for Science, Ethics and Innovation and Academy of Medical Sciences.
It took place at the University’s Manchester Museum.
The event draws on the findings of Academy’s recent report examining the use of ‘animals containing human material’ in biomedical research, drafted by 16 experts of which four spoke in Manchester.
The report calls for additional oversight to ensure that  innovative science can flourish within clearly defined ethical boundaries with public support.
Medical conditions including Down's syndrome, cancer and stroke have been investigated using animals containing human material.
Panel member and Academy Fellow Martin Bobrow, Professor Emeritus of Human Genetics at Cambridge University is chair of the working group behind the report.
He said: ‘This is an area of research with real potential to deliver scientific advances and bring new treatments to the clinic. Events like this will contribute to ongoing dialogue between scientists, regulators and the wider public to address emerging issues.’
Also taking part were ethicist Professor John Harris, Director of the Institute for Science, Ethics and Innovation at The University of Manchester, sociologist Professor Nikolas Rose from the London School of Economics and geneticist Professor Veronica van Heyningen, joint head of the MRC Human Genetics Unit in Edinburgh.
Co-organiser of the event, Dr Sarah Chan from the Institute for Science, Ethics and Innovation said: “As the country’s biggest non-governmental source of funding for biomedical research, the Wellcome Trust has initiated many extraordinary improvements in health and supported the public understanding of science.
“What better way to celebrate this anniversary than to look at some of the ethical issues which arise out of contemporary medical research on the use of animals containing human material - one of the important ethical issues in this area.
“Reflecting on the conclusions of the Academy’s recent study, this debate will encourage public discussion of this important area.”