Brussels, 14 Nov 2002
Experts in science, technology, economics and law will explore the impact of genomics on society, and of society on genomics, at a new centre based at the University of Edinburgh.
The INNOGEN centre, funded by an award of two million GBP (3.2 million euro) from the UK's Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), will act as a 'melting pot' for knowledge and information, as specialists examine the profound consequences of the emergence of genomics on health, welfare, prosperity and the environment.
INNOGEN (Interdisciplinary Centre for Social and Economic Research on Innovations in Genomics) links the University of Edinburgh with The Open University, and draws together current information gleaned from scientists, industry, policy makers and public interest groups. It aims to contribute to the shaping of policies affecting issues like biotechnology, food production, health care and pharmaceutical advances in developed and developing countries.
The Centre has been created to study the effects of genomics on society, as well as related developments in the life science industry. Specialists will examine the structure and dynamics of this sector, the influence of policy, law and society upon it, and its impact on everyday life.
The Centre's first Director, Professor Joyce Tait said: 'We aim to build an internationally respected Centre to enable social scientists and the ESRC to take a leading role in policy, public and innovation-related debates on life science issues, and to contribute to the shaping of the biotechnology trajectory from a well-informed, evidence-based position. We will conduct a strong, innovative programme of fundamental and applied social science research; engage with the scientific community and other stakeholders and contribute to the forming of policies in key areas.'
The themes to be researched will include science, innovation and knowledge management and risk, governance and regulation. Topics include innovation processes in the genomics industry sectors; the public and private organisation of genetic information; the national and international policy environments for genomics; and exploring the power of knowledge and technology flows in Latin America, Asia and Africa.
The Open University welcomed the initiative and David Wield, Co-Director of the ESRC Centre said 'The Open University team is very pleased to bring its expertise in industrial dynamics, industry-academic research links, risk, and international development together with Edinburgh's major strengths. This is a wonderful opportunity to build on a long standing and productive collaboration with the University of Edinburgh that will produce world class and globally useful research'.