Our Council brings with it a broad range of expertise, including from the areas of clinical research, biosciences, theology, law, ethics, philosophy, journalism and sociology.

One of the particular strengths of the Nuffield Council is its ability to look to the future and predict the issues that should be addressed - or, as we state in our terms of reference, to ‘respond to, and anticipate, public concern’.

In 2012, we looked at the very specific issue of mitochondrial donation where we thought the Council could make an important contribution. In early 2014, the Government indicated its desire to propose regulations. The debates, consultation and Parliamentary inquiry that followed all drew on the Council’s report and our recommendations. By December, regulations were laid before Parliament, ready for a vote in 2015.

Our report has had significant impact – it was timely, policy focused and highly relevant to the debates. However, that isn’t where our work ends. We have much to say on regulation of the techniques, and, as we predicted in the report, the question of germ line therapy, or genome editing will become even more pronounced over the coming year and something we will need to look at seriously.

But this immediate impact shouldn’t overshadow the long term impact of the Council’s work. As debates around GM crops continue, the Council finds itself dusting off copies of our reports published nearly 15 years ago.

While none of our current Council members can take the credit for reports published as far back as 1999, the fact that the Council’s work has such enduring relevance is testimony to the Council’s foresight and above all else, the quality of its work.

As with every year, we have welcomed new Council members, and said goodbye to others who have contributed so much to the work of the Council. Our Council brings with it a broad range of expertise, including from the areas of clinical research, biosciences, theology, law, ethics, philosophy, journalism and sociology.

This deliberative body is at the heart of our thinking, constantly challenging us in how we approach difficult topics. But without our Secretariat, and the stewardship of our Director, much of what you read here would never have been achieved, and I would like to thank them all for their continued dedication and hard work.

Professor Jonathan Montgomery

Among researchers, funders and university staff, 2014 will be the year of the Research Excellence Framework, the REF. For us, standing at the edge of academia as we do, it was an opportunity to do something new and look at how the demands of science affect the way in which it is conducted.

These questions didn’t come out of the blue. Two of our previous reports, Novel Neurotechnologies and Emerging Biotechnologies, highlighted that scientists feel under pressure to hype the potential impact of their research; and that pressures around funding, assessment and publishing tend to drive what research actually takes place. This has consequences both for whether society benefits optimally from science, and for research practice - how scientists’ decisions and choices are made.

This project was not run as a usual Nuffield Council Working Party, as it was a different kind of topic, requiring a different kind of approach. In our Strategic Plan, we committed ourselves to being more flexible, working on different projects, forming new collaborations, and hearing from a wider range of audiences. So our research culture project was just that. We worked with five of the UK’s key scientific organisations and heard from nearly 1,000 scientists, funders, publishers and others about the issues facing science. Our findings have struck a chord with many in the sector and have been widely welcomed, but culture change takes time, and means breaking away from a status quo that we’ve all got used to.

We’ve also been hard at work on two other projects – biological and health data, and the ethical issues of involving children in clinical research. Whilst being more traditional Working Party projects, they remain very different. The first has involved working on constantly shifting ground, with regular news of new initiatives, data breaches, or the latest concerns about access to medical records. The second is an attempt to tackle an impasse – the long standing reluctance to do clinical research with children. This project has involved a wide range of contributors, including many children, young people and their families, to whom we are extremely grateful.

We’re already well into 2015, so the outcomes of both projects are already available, and indeed they have already achieved a great deal. I look forward to sharing the findings of this and other work, and progress on our various recommendations, next year.

Hugh Whittall

Hugh Whittall
We worked with five of the UK's key scientific organisations and heard from nearly 1,000 scientists, funders, publishers and others about the issues facing science.

Throughout 2014, the Council undertook a series of engagement activities that aimed to inform and advance debate about the ethical consequences of the culture of scientific research.

Two previous Council reports (Emerging Biotechnologies in 2012 and Novel Neurotechnologies in 2013) brought to light concerns about the ethical consequences of the culture of scientific research in terms of its potential to affect research practices and the quality and direction of science.

The Council set up a Steering Group that included members of staff from the Royal Society, Society of Biology, Institute of Physics, Royal Society of Chemistry and Academy of Medical Sciences. The project included an online survey and a series of discussion events across the UK.

The findings of the project include:

  • High levels of competition for jobs and funding in scientific research are believed both to bring out the best in people and to create incentives for poor quality research practices, less collaboration and headline chasing.
  • The pressure felt by scientists to publish in high impact factor journals is believed to be resulting in important research not being published, disincentives for multidisciplinary research, authorship issues, and a lack of recognition for non-article research outputs.
  • 58% of the survey respondents are aware of scientists feeling tempted or under pressure to compromise on research integrity and standards. 26% of respondents have themselves felt tempted or under pressure to compromise on research integrity and standards. Evidence was not collected on any behaviour associated with these findings.
  • 61% of the survey respondents think that the move towards open access publishing is having a positive or very positive effect overall on scientists in terms of encouraging the production of high quality research.

The report concludes that there is a collective obligation for the actors in the system to do everything they can to ensure the culture of research supports good research practice and the production of high quality science, and provides a number of suggestions for action for funding bodies, research institutions, publishers and editors, professional bodies and individual researchers.


970 survey responses

15 discussion events

63 speakers and chairs

680 registered attendees

3 evidence gathering meetings

The report was launched at an event in the Houses of Parliament, hosted by Andrew Miller MP, Chair of the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee. The report was discussed in editorials in Nature and The Lancet and in Times Higher Education.

Overall, the response has been very positive, with organisations such as the UK Research Integrity Office, the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), the Committee on Publication Ethics welcoming the report. Findings of the report have also been discussed with senior officials, including Sir Mark Walport, Chief Scientific Advisor to the Government, and at several events including HEFCE’s independent review of the role of metrics and the Strategy Group for the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers.

The Steering Group was chaired by Ottoline Leyser, Professor of Plant Development and Director of the Sainsbury Laboratory at the University of Cambridge. Find out more >

Scientific research culture: winners and losers in the laboratory rat race
By Ottoline Leyser, published March 2014

Discussing science culture: replication, publication, and more...
By Anna Wilkinson, published July 2014

The dark side of research – when chasing prestige becomes the prize
By Ottoline Leyser, originally published in The Conversation in December 2014

We are generating more data about people’s health and biology than ever before. Combined with advances in IT and data science, this offers significant opportunities to generate new knowledge and improve medical practice; but it also raises concerns about the implications for individuals’ privacy and the social consequences of exploiting ‘Big Data’.

The report will look at the ethics of data use by considering the relationship between privacy and public interest, and how developments in data science and computing have put significant pressure on conventional approaches to information governance, including the approach of seeking consent or anonymising data for use in research.

The report will also look at a number of data initiatives in healthcare and population research including the NHS England programme, the Scottish Informatics Programme (SHIP), 100K Genomes, UK Biobank, UK10K Rare Genetic Variants in Health and Disease, to identify areas of good practice and make recommendations for improving current practice.

The consultation period closed in January, with over 60 responses received. During 2014, the Working Party held its fourth fact finding meeting on cross-border data sharing and held meetings with Tim Kelsey, Director of Patients and Information, NHS England, and Kingsley Manning, Chair of the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) to discuss the programme. Other meetings have been held with senior officials at Science Wise and Google.

The project has been discussed by Working Party members at a number of events, including at the Danish Board of Technology; the National Association of Data Protection Officers; the UK BioBank Ethics and Governance Council conference; and the International Meeting on Emerging Disease and Surveillance.

The Working Party has commissioned two external reviews on the following areas:

  • Actual harms resulting from security breaches or infringements of privacy involving health data.
  • History of the relationship between the private and public sector in the field of human genomics.

Report published in February 2015

Ahead of the publication of the report, the Council responded to the Department of Health consultation on protecting health and care information, highlighting a number of issues relevant to the Council’s work in this area. The Council’s response is available online.

The Working Party is chaired by Martin Richards, Emeritus Professor of Family Research, University of Cambridge. Find out more >

FROM OUR BLOG what’s in a dot and what’s a dot not?
By Peter Mills, published March 2014

Bringing down the knowledge deficit
By Peter Mills, published March 2014

Clinical research with children is essential in order to improve care, but parents and professionals are often worried about asking children to take part in research.

The report will look at how children and young people can ethically take part in clinical research, and at the roles and responsibilities of children, parents, researchers and research ethics committees.

Over 200 people responded to the Council's call for evidence, including 150 parents and children who responded to the online survey. In order to gain a valuable international perspective, the Working Party adapted the call for evidence to distribute it to colleagues working in Kenya, and more widely through the Global Health Reviewers network. In addition, members of the Working Party held a consultation with community members and school children in Kilifi, Kenya.

In March, the Council published the findings from its Youth-REC project, which included two short films. The project - a collaboration with researchers from the Universities of Sussex and Nottingham, and the Institute of Education - involved workshops at a junior school, secondary school, and sixth form college in the Brighton area. Students were asked to review a fictional research protocol, and analyse the review process of a mock research ethics committee.

In May, the Working Party presented the initial findings and themes of the report to its stakeholder group which includes young people, parents and professionals with personal experience of taking part in or working with clinical research. Discussions during the day covered issues such as:

  • How should we think about research with children and young people? Is it important?
  • How helpful is vulnerability as a concept when we talk about involving children and young people in clinical research?
  • To what extent can or should children and young people make their own decisions about whether to participate in clinical research?
  • How could researchers design their research better for children and young people?
  • How should decisions be made about what research gets done?


The Working Party is chaired by Bobbie Farsides, Professor of Clinical and Biomedical Ethics at Brighton and Sussex Medical School. Find out more >

Report published in May 2015


Involving children in research: "what we think about what adults think"
By Natasha Wilcock, Rosie Bradford and Elis Richardson, published April 2014

The Council aims to inform policy discussions and decision-making through contributing balanced and thorough analyses of bioethical issues and making carefully considered recommendations published in our reports.

Following the publication of the Council's reports, staff and Council members seek opportunities to promote and discuss the recommendations made. Over the years, the Council has built a strong reputation for significant contributions to the development of bioethics in public policy. The following section provides some examples of policy influence from previous reports that the Council achieved in 2014.

In addition, the Council has been cited in 536 academic papers or books published in 2014.
(mean average per year 2011-2013: 457).

In January 2014, the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) published new guidance on the use of transcranial magnetic stimulation. The guidance reflects some of the key recommendations of the Council’s report.

The Council also recommended that the Health Research Authority (HRA) should develop guidance on the use of sham neurosurgery in clinical investigations. This recommendation was referred to the National Research Ethics Advisors’ Panel (NREAP) of the HRA. In February, the Council met with NREAP to discuss this further. HRA and the Council plan to co-host a roundtable on the issue in 2015.

One of the recommendations in this report is that neurostimulation devices should be regulated as medical devices irrespective of their intended use, and the Council has initiated discussions with the MHRA regarding EU regulation on this issue.

Find out more about our report >


Registering the importance of sharing outcomes of brain stimulation
By Emily Postan, published January 2014

Neuroscience and ethics goes global
By Hugh Whittall, published May 2014

In the year since the report's publication, the Council has initiated a range of follow up activities, including presentations at public events and meetings with relevant groups and government bodies such as the Donor Conception Network (DCN) and the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA).

In June, the Council published a summary of developments in relation to specific recommendations, which include:

  • Updated HFEA guidance on encouraging donors to provide more personal information in the donor form for the possible benefit of children born as a result of their donation;
  • The HFEA's initiation of a three-year pilot for an intermediary service to support both donor-conceived people and the donor where they make, or consider making, contact (using the expertise of post-adoption agencies); and
  • HFEA plans to develop a standalone website for donors, parents and donor-conceived people to bring together information related to donor conception and raise awareness about the possibility of donor re-registration.

Find out more about our report >

In May, the Council responded to the Department of Health consultation on draft regulations to permit the use of new treatment techniques.

Several references were made to the Council's work in the consultation document, and the regulations were generally in accordance with the Council's views. The consultation was an opportunity to point out the important conditions that the Council states should be met if this treatment were to be offered to affected families. These conditions include:

  • provision of appropriate, specialist information and counselling;
  • that the treatments should initially only be offered in specialist centres as a clinical trial;
  • consent to follow up should be included as a mandatory part of parental consent to participating in the trial.

Professor Jonathan Montgomery gave evidence on behalf of Council to a House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee on the future regulation of clinical uses of mitochondrial transfer techniques in October. On 17 December, the Department of Health laid Regulations in Parliament to allow mitochondrial donation to prevent the transmission of mitochondrial disease. A written statement to announce the move includes a reference to the Council's report and the Council's work was referenced several times in Parliamentary debates. The Regulations will be considered and voted on in Parliament in early 2015.

The Council was also invited to submit a response to the UNESCO International Bioethics Committee (IBC) concept note updating the IBC's reflection on the human genome and human rights. The note, published in May, marks the Council's report, and the discussion in the UK surrounding mitochondrial donation, as one of two very important developments in this field, over the past year.

Find out more about our report >

Many of the Council’s conclusions regarding financial incentives and consent are reflected in the Medical Research Council’s ethical guidelines on the use of human tissue and biological tissues in research, which references the Council’s report on several occasions, including when stating that:

  • Research participants should never be offered any financial inducement to donate samples. Payment of reasonable expenses or costs is, however, acceptable.
  • Researchers should ensure that, where known, the wishes and interests of the donor are respected at all times, and the welfare of research participants should always take precedence over the interests of science and society.

In its guidance on payments and incentives in research, the Health Research Authority notes that the terminology outlined in the Council’s report should be used in any advertising materials when explaining terms such as payment, recompense, reward or purchase.

Find out more about our report >

The Council responded to a consultation on the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation Draft Post Implementation Review.

The consultation response reiterated the six ethical principles set out in the report that policy makers should use to evaluate biofuel technologies and guide policy development.

Find out more about our report >

The Council has been involved in the NHS England Timely Diagnosis of Dementia Consensus Group led by the National Clinical Director for Dementia, in light of recommendations in the report to promote 'timely' rather than 'early' diagnosis.

In March, the Government published plans to improve dementia care which closely reflect the Council’s recommendations published in 2009, including on the issues of timely diagnosis and dementia friendly businesses.

Members of the Working Party have discussed the report’s conclusions and recommendations at a number of events, including a House of Lords discussion dinner on dementia and stigma; a workshop on clinical practice in Hannover, Germany; a conference on management and prevention at the Royal College of General Practitioners; and the 24th Alzheimer Europe conference in Glasgow.

The Council’s approach to supported decision-making was referenced in a report by the House of Lords Select Committee on the Mental Capacity Act.

Find out more about our report >


Dementia diagnosis – what happens next?
By Kate Harvey, published July 2014

Let’s talk (some more) about dementia
By Sarah Walker-Robson, published July 2014

The Council submitted evidence to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) consultation on obesity prevention and lifestyle management in children.

In its response, the Council highlighted its ‘stewardship model’ for public health policy makers regarding the roles of schools and local authorities in helping children and young people lead healthy lives.

Find out more about our report >

The Council submitted a response to the Home Office triennial review of the National DNA Database ethics group.

The Council expressed its support for the continued need for such a body.

Find out more about our report >

In February, the Government published a cross-departmental delivery plan aimed at reducing the use of animals in research.

The plan set out a list of new and existing initiatives aiming to promote the ‘Three Rs’ (replacement, reduction and refinement) in animal research. This supports the view put forward in the Council’s report that it is crucial that the Three Rs are enshrined in UK regulation regarding research involving animals.

In May, a new Concordat on Openness in Animal Research in the UK was launched, reflecting some of the recommendations on transparency that were made in the Council’s report. Specifically, the Council recommended that clearer information ought to be provided about how many animals experience pain, suffering and distress, and for how long, through information provided in Annual Statistics on the use of Animals in Research. The Council also suggested that retrospective information about the level of suffering that animals have undergone during procedures should be made publicly available.

The Concordat set out four key commitments:

  • Be clear about when, how and why animals are used in research
  • Enhance communications with the media and the public about research using animals
  • Be proactive in providing opportunities for the public to find out about research using animals
  • Report on progress annually and share experiences

Find out more about our report >

In April, the Council submitted written evidence to the House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee on GM foods and the application of the precautionary principle in Europe.

The evidence submitted drew from three previous Council reports, including GM Crops: the ethical and social issues (1999), The use of GM crops in developing countries: a follow-up discussion paper (2003) and Emerging Biotechnologies: technology, choice and the public good (2012).

Council member Roland Jackson subsequently gave evidence on behalf of the Council at the Select Committee’s evidence session on GM crops in November.

Find out more about our report >


Why are we still discussing GM like this?
By Roland Jackson, published November 2014

The Council consults widely with a range of organisations and individuals including government, institutes and societies, industry, non-governmental bodies and researchers to identify potential future work topics for the Council. We also keep abreast of developments being discussed in the media, and have an open call for suggestions that anyone can respond to.

For a topic to be selected by the Council, it must fulfil the following conditions:

  • be novel: be linked to substantial new developments in medicine or biology
  • raise ethical questions and concerns of some complexity
  • be timely: the Council aims to be proactive in its selection of new topics
  • lead to a report that would be likely to have an important impact on policy or practice
  • be within the Council’s terms of reference

Find out more about our Future work programme, or suggest a topic >

In January 2014, the Council held a roundtable scoping meeting to explore the major ethical and societal questions raised by the increasing use of cosmetic procedures.

Guests included academics from the fields of social anthropology, ethics, psychology, clinical medicine, childhood studies and appearance studies; representatives from charities and campaigning organisations; artists, art academics and art advisors; Government officials; and practitioners, such as a GP, aesthetics surgeons and nurses.

The Council decided to set up a Working Party to explore the ethical issues raised by cosmetic procedures, with a particular focus on the role and responsibilities of health and scientific professionals in responding to demand for invasive non-reconstructive procedures that aim to enhance or normalise appearance. Work on this project will begin in 2015.

The topic was previously discussed at the 2013 Forward Look seminar.

Find out more about our project >

Are we making good choices about cosmetic procedures?
By Catherine Joynson, published February 2014

In 2014, progress with novel techniques of genome editing, including the CRISPR-Cas9 system highlighted this issue as a potential new topic for the Council to consider.

Genome editing has potentially very wide application, including as an approach to germ line therapies. Germ line therapies were the subject of a Forward Look seminar in 2011, and the Council’s report looking specifically at mitochondrial DNA, published in 2012, concluded that this issue required further consideration.

In September 2014, in the context of rapid innovation and increasing use of the CRISPR-Cas9 system among research groups, the Council commissioned a background paper on the subject. The Council has decided to set up a project on this topic and work will begin in 2015.

Find out more about our project >

The concept of naturalness runs through many bioethics debates and has been discussed in several of the Council’s previous reports, including those on GM crops, donor conception and emerging biotechnologies.

In 2014, the Council decided to explore the different meanings associated with naturalness in public and political debate, and commissioned a background paper on the topic. A project will begin in 2015, so as to run alongside projects on genome editing, and cosmetic procedures, which both highlight issues around the concept of natural/unnatural.

Find out more about our project >

In May, the Council held its annual Forward Look seminar, where the Council, with the help of invited speakers and guests, discussed three possible future topics.

The Council then deliberates these topics, and others identified, to take forward as future work. Background papers are produced to inform and stimulate the discussions. These are published online and, whether the Council proceeds with a project or not, represent a growing resource of concise summaries of key issues.

Resource pressure in the NHS

The background paper Funding pressures in the NHS: an ethical response provides an overview of different forms of response to funding pressures in the NHS, and seeks to identify ethical challenges arising from these. A summary of the discussion is available online, and issues discussed included:

  • The financial situation of the NHS currently, and in the near future.
  • The impact of current austerity measures on quality and access to care.
  • Strategies and techniques that might be used to raise funds and ‘manage demand’.

Complementary medicine

The background paper Complementary Medicine: ethics outlines some of the policy, regulatory and legal issues raised by this area of medicine. A summary of the presentations and discussion is available online, and issues discussed included:

  • Difficulties in gathering and assessing evidence in complementary medicine, for example in defining ‘complementary’ versus ‘conventional’ therapies.
  • Questions about the applicability of Randomised Control Trials and quantitative evidence in complementary and other ‘personalised’ treatments.
  • The challenge of providing information and advice to support patients’ and others’ choices and decisions about complementary treatments.

Sports science and medicine

The background paper Sports science and medicine: ethics highlights the technologies, law, and ethical issues associated with enhancements that aim to improve or control elite sports performances. A summary of the presentations and discussion is available online, and issues discussed included:

  • The distinctions between enabling and enhancing; and natural ‘unfair advantages’ versus enhancing technologies.
  • The responsibilities of healthcare professionals, and the pressure on athletes to perform despite potential risks to their health.
  • Issues around confidentiality and privacy rights in relation to the health of professional athletes.

Technologies that enhance performance: playing (fair) games with sport?
By Kate Harvey, published May 2014

Council members and staff participate in a wide range of international meetings and activities related to specific projects, and build close links with other ethics bodies abroad.

This year, the Council was invited to give a number of international presentations and to attend a number of meetings with organisations across Europe and internationally, reflecting its high profile internationally. These include:

  • The launch of the WHO Collaborating Centre in Ethics in Singapore, discussing the Council’s work on children and clinical research.
  • Annual summer school of the Global Health Bioethics Network in Malawi to discuss how the Council’s work on children and clinical research might apply in different cultural environments.
  • Speaking at an event in Warsaw (Poland) co-organised by the British Embassy and the Chancellery of the Prime Minister, about British bioethical and biomedical policy development and how Poland could learn from the UK’s example.
  • Meeting with representatives from the Víctor Grífols Foundation in Spain and the Centro de Bioetica at Universidad del Desarrollo in Chile to discuss the Council’s work and explore possibilities for mutual cooperation.
  • Presenting an overview of the Council’s work on the ethics of health research in developing countries at an event in Kuwait co-organised by the University of Beirut and Kuwait University in collaboration with the Council.
  • The British Council programme ‘From Country to Country’ (De País en País) at the Universidad de Antioquia in Colombia aimed at strengthening the opportunities and links of international cooperation.
  • Presentations about the Council’s work on children and research, public health and biodata at the International Association of Bioethics World Congress in Mexico; and at the Global Summit of National Ethics Committees, also in Mexico.

In October, the Council hosted the annual Trilateral meeting with the German and French National Ethics Committees. The two main topics under discussion were end of life and assisted suicide; and differences in European legislation, specifically on beginning of life and reproductive medicine (i.e. gestational surrogacy).


June in Mexico City
By Hugh Whittall, published July 2014

Young people’s voices go global: ethics, collaboration and engagement in international health research
By Bobbie Farsides, published July 2014

After three consecutive years launching multiple reports which attracted considerable attention in national and international media, this year's publication of our Research Culture report generated discussion among a more specific audience.

With around 560 tweets on launch day mentioning the project, as well as blogs on the BMJ, Royal Society, Society of Biology, LSE websites and from senior representatives at HEFCE, the Committee on Publication Ethics and the UK Integrity Ofice, our findings have certainly got people talking, both inside and outside research communities, and the conversations will continue well into 2015.

2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 Mean average per year 2010-2013
Broadcast interviews 5 30 10 57 27 31
UK national press (online & print articles) 12 25 27 16 36 26
Other (including international media) 100 306 907 688 251 538
Articles written by Council representatives 6 7 12 24 13 14

Clare Wenham, a PhD student from Aberstwyth University, was the first recipient of the Council-funded Fellowship at the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST).

Clare spent three months in Parliament from April to July 2014 and wrote a briefing note for MPs and Peers on the ethical, legal and practical issues raised by biobanks. The topic was chosen by the POST Board, chaired by Adam Afriyrie MP.

The Biobanks POSTnote is available online.

The Council is funding at least two more Fellowships at POST over the next two years. They will be open to PhD students studying a bioethics-related subject at a UK university who are in their penultimate or final year of study. The Fellow will gain first-hand experience of the workings of Parliament and will be asked to produce a briefing note on an area of public policy that raises bioethical issues.


Biobanks, bioethics and three months in Parliament
By Clare Wenham, published July 2014

The Council promotes and supports informed discussions about bioethical issues through a variety of educational resources and collaborations, including speaking in schools and publishing resources.

In 2014, the Council collaborated with FunKids radio to produce a ten part series aimed at 6-12 year olds. The series aims to introduce discussions about bioethics to children and parents on a range of topical issues such as infectious diseases, medical trials, GM crops, or using DNA in forensics. The series was first broadcast in January 2014, reaching over 264,000 listeners by the end of March. By December the series had also been downloaded over 2000 times from the FunKids and Council websites.

In the autumn term, members of the Education Advisory Group shared their thoughts and ideas on bioethics in teaching, informal learning and education more widely in a series of blog posts.

Find out more about our education work >


Miss, this isn’t RS, it’s science!
By Rebecca Ward, published October 2014

Use of multimedia in bioethics education
By Chris Wilmott, publishes September 2014

Science in schools: let’s look at the context (not just the content)
By Annette Smith, published September 2014

The Council organises and takes part in a number of conferences and events to raise awareness of its work and promote debate of the issues considered in its reports. Highlights this year include:

Bioethics in 2025 – what will be the challenges?
In November, the Council held its 2014 annual lecture at the Barbican Centre in London. Over 130 people attended the event, which saw four speakers present their take on future challenges in and for bioethics. The event was hosted by Professor Jonathan Montgomery and speakers included Professor Deborah Bowman, Dr Sarah Chan, Dr Molly Crockett and Dr Gill Haddow.

Brain stimulation
Members of the Council’s Working Party on Novel Neurotechnologies spoke about the science and ethics of brain stimulation at the 2014 Cheltenham Science Festival. The event was attended by around 150 people and chaired by science writer Jennifer Oulette.

Council representatives gave presentations at 43 events this year. (mean average per year 2010-2013: 42.5)

This year, the Council has launched its new website. The aim of the re-design is to give more prominence to the range of work the Council carries out, including its policy and education work, as well as horizon scanning activities highlighted in the future work section.

The Nuff' said blog is now integrated into the main website, and the individual project pages mean that reports are published alongside relevant news updates, blogs and policy briefing papers. The new website was launched in August 2014.

2014 2013 2012 2011 2010
Visits to the website 173,844 180,548 162,701 121,476 81,325
Page views 364,796 749,974 797,366 666,072 355,209
No. countries with more than 100 visits 78 79 71 60 49
Subscribers to e-newsletter 3,910 3,058 2,702 2,280 1,797
Twitter followers 4,200 3,413 2,424 1,571 1,000
Blog posts 31 28 9 n/a n/a
Page views on the blog site 8797 8,383 1422 n/a n/a

(Our blog was launched in September 2012, so blog post numbers and views for 2012, only cover the period 20 September – 31 December 2012)

Reports and Working Parties

1 report published in 2014

28 reports published to date

8 reports published 2010-2013

2 active projects at the end of 2014

Consultations in 2014

2 consultations held by the Council
(mean average per year 2010-2013: 2)

1,021 responses received to the Council’s consultations
(mean average per year 2010-2013: 220)

6 responses submitted to consultations of other organisations
(mean average per year 2010-2013: 8)

Financial Report for the year to 31 December 2014 (unaudited)

2014 Actual
2013 Actual
Salaries and staffing costs 577,285 572,611
Reviewers' and consultants fees 43,192 35,120
Office and premises costs 3,285 4,474
Other project costs 20,358 450
Journals & subscriptions 12,656 14,957
Travel and meeting costs 67,626 75,535
Web, printing and publicity 42,173 55,170
Total Expenditure 766,575 758,318
Funded by:
Nuffield Foundation 253,090 252,532
Medical Research Council 253,090 252,532
Wellcome Trust 253,090 252,532
Other 7,304 721
766,575 758,317
Five year Funding 2012-2016
Medical Research Council 1,435,896
Wellcome Trust 1,435,896
Nuffield Foundation 1,435,896
Amount Drawn
Year ending 31 December 2012 768,734
Year ending 31 December 2013 758,317
Year ending 31 December 2014 766,575
Outstanding Funding 2015-2016 2,014,062

Members of Council during 2014

Back row, left to right - Ottoline Leyser, Martin Richards, Andy Greenfield, Graeme Laurie, Roland Jackson, Jonathan Montgomery, Ann Gallagher, Paquita de Zulueta, David Lawrence, Robin Weiss. Front row, left to right – Robin Gill, Peter Furness, Anneke Lucassen, Bobbie Farsides, Geoff Watts, Tom Shakespeare

Professor Jonathan Montgomery (Chair)
Professor of Health Care Law, University College London and Chair, Health Research Authority

Professor Ottoline Leyser (Deputy Chair)
Professor of Plant Development and Associate Director, Sainsbury Laboratory, University of Cambridge

Professor Bobbie Farsides
Professor of Clinical and Biomedical Ethics, Brighton and Sussex Medical School. A co-opted member of Council while chairing the Council’s Working Party on children and clinical research

Professor Peter Furness
Consultant pathologist, Leicester General Hospital and Honorary Professor of renal pathology, University of Leicester

Professor Ann Gallagher
Professor of Ethics and Care at the International Care Ethics Observatory, University of Surrey

Professor Robin Gill
Professor of Applied Theology, University of Kent

Professor Erica Haimes
Professor of Sociology at Newcastle University and Founding Executive Director of PEALS (Policy, Ethics and Life Sciences) Research Centre

Professor Julian Hughes
Consultant in Psychiatry of Old Age in Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, Honorary Professor of philosophy of ageing at the Institute for Ageing and Health, Newcastle University

Sir Roland Jackson
Executive Chair of Sciencewise and Chair of the Bioscience for Society Strategy Panel for the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)

Professor Graeme Laurie
Professor of Medical Jurisprudence, University of Edinburgh, and Director of the Arts and Humanities Research Council Research Centre for Studies in Intellectual Property and Technology Law

Professor Tim Lewens
Professor of Philosophy of the Sciences, Department of History and Philosophy of Science, and Fellow of Clare College, University of Cambridge

Professor Anneke Lucassen
Professor of Clinical Genetics and Honorary Consultant Clinical Geneticist, University of Southampton Cancer Sciences Division and the Wessex Clinical Genetics Service

Professor Martin Richards
Emeritus Professor of Family Research, University of Cambridge. A co-opted member of Council while chairing the Council’s Working Party on biological and health data

Dr Tom Shakespeare
Senior Lecturer in Medical Sociology at the Norwich Medical School, University of East Anglia

Dr Geoff Watts
Science and medical writer and broadcaster

Adam Wishart
Writer and documentary maker, focussing on the ethics and policy of science and medicine

Dr Paquita de Zulueta
General Practitioner, cognitive behavioural therapist, Honorary Senior Clinical Lecturer at Imperial College London

New members of Council appointed in 2014

The Revd Dr Michael Banner
Dean and Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge

Professor Simon Caney
Professor in Political Theory at the Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Oxford, Fellow and Tutor at Magdalen College

Dr Tara Clancy
Consultant Genetic Counsellor, Honorary Senior Lecturer, Manchester Centre for Genomic Medicine

Dr Andy Greenfield
Programme Leader, Mammalian Genetics Unit at MRC Harwell, and member of the HFEA.

David K Lawrence
Non-Executive Director at Syngenta AG, Chair of the Syngenta Science & Technology Advisory Board, and a member of the Biotechnology & Biological Science Research Council

Professor Mona Siddiqui
Professor of Islamic and Interreligious Studies, Assistant Principal for Religion and Society, University of Edinburgh

Professor Shaun Pattinson
Professor of Medical Law and Ethics, Durham University

Professor Christine Watson
Professor of Cell and Cancer Biology, Department of Pathology, University of Cambridge

Professor Robin A Weiss
Emeritus Professor of Viral Oncology, University College London

Professor Heather Widdows
John Ferguson Professor of Global Ethics, Department of Philosophy, University of Birmingham

Members of Council who completed terms in 2014

Dr Amanda Burls (until January)
Director, Postgraduate Programmes in Evidence-Based Health Care, and Senior Fellow, Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine, University of Oxford

Professor Jonathan Wolff (until January)
Professor of Philosophy, University College London

Hugh Whittall

Dr Peter Mills
Assistant Director

Katharine Wright
Assistant Director

Catherine Joynson
Programme Manager

Carol Perkins
PA to the Director and Secretariat Administrator

Sarah Walker-Robson
Communications Manager
(maternity leave from October 2014)

Seil Collins
Communications Manager
(maternity cover from October 2014)

Kate Harvey
Senior Research Officer

Tom Finnegan
Research Officer (until January 2014)

Ranveig Svenning Berg
Communications Officer

Dr Bettina Schmietow
Research Officer (from March 2014)

Dr Anna Wilkinson
Programme Officer (from January 2014)

Laura Medhurst
Office and Communications Administrator (from July 2014)

Johanna White
Office and Communications Administrator (until February 2014)

Contact us

Nuffield Council on Bioethics
28 Bedford Square, London WC1B 3JS
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7681 9619

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© Nuffield Council on Bioethics 2015