Liverpool scientist swaps lab for legislation

PhilMartin-1wDr Philip Martin (right) joined Ellesmere Port and Neston MP, Andrew Miller in Westminster

A researcher from the University of Liverpool was selected by the Royal Society to spend a week shadowing an MP at Westminster to find out more about how science and politics work together.

Dr Philip Martin, from the Institute of Translational Medicine was partnered with Labour MP for Ellesmere Port and Neston, Andrew Miller and attended meetings with senior government scientists as well as taking in Prime Minister’s Questions and the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement.

Science and policy

Mr Miller, the Chair of the House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee, invited Dr Martin to meet civil servants and attend events which addressed how science is used in making policy decisions, and which emerging technologies the Government should focus on in the future.

During the Westminster visit, Dr Martin was involved in discussions with prominent government scientists such as Professor Lord Robert Winston, Sir Mark Walport (Chief Scientific Advisor) and Dr Stephen Benn (Director of Parliamentary Affairs for the Society of Biology).

”It’s been an invaluable experience to witness the information processes government uses to decide and prioritise funding and how researchers can directly influence policy at the highest level”
In addition, Dr Martin was able to spend time with researchers from the science select committee and give his opinions on topics including antimicrobial drug resistance.

Finally, Dr Martin attended the ‘RCUK Gateway to Research’ launch at the House of Commons where he was able to meet representatives from various pharmaceutical companies and research councils, such as Professor David Delpy, Chief Executive, Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and discuss the recent launch and current status of the British Society of Nanomedicine at the University of Liverpool.

Under the scheme, which is organised by The Royal Society, there will be a reciprocal visit in 2014 in which Mr Miller will visit the University’s Department of Clinical and Molecular Pharmacology and the Department of Chemistry where he will be shown how nanotechnology is being utilised to generate ‘nanocarriers’ capable of being used as drug delivery systems for nanomedicines.

Better informed

These partnerships enable MPs to become better informed about leading science issues and for scientists to understand how they can influence science policy. The scheme has attracted over 200 pairs of scientists and MPs since it was launched in 2001.

Dr Martin said: “I’ve a great deal of respect for Mr Miller and for all his work on science in parliament. It’s been an invaluable experience being paired with him and to witness, first hand, the information processes government uses to decide and prioritise funding and how researchers can directly influence policy at the highest level. I look forward to hosting Mr Miller’s reciprocal visit next year”


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