June Andrews: policy support for dementia needs to be adequate

A better management of chronic illnesses such as dementia can be done by harnessing technological solutions. But this kind of innovative support cannot be used unless it respects the rights of people affected by the disease. In contrast, those close to dementia patients have a responsibility to adopt preventive steps to manage the disease. But this can only happen once governments implement adequate level of support. In this exclusive EuroScientist interview, June Andrews, director of the Dementia Services Development Centre at the University of Stirling, in Scotland, UK, analyses the potential and the drawbacks of innovation for the 50 million people worldwide affected by this condition.

Research can be more responsible with the right partner

The drivers leading to responsible research and innovation are poorly understood. Now, empirical work done in the EU project “Governance of Responsible Innovation” (GREAT) has investigated the factors influencing the uptake of responsible research aspects in EU-funded research and innovation using an agent-based simulation approach to analyse the impact of responsibility measures. Results reveal, for example, that the involvement of civil society organisations does not necessarily tilt the balance towards greater responsibility in research as initially thought. Instead, what appears to be of vital importance is the capability of any research partner to perform research responsibly.

A new beginning to tackle the global emergency

“As never before in history, common destiny beckons us to seek a new beginning,” stated the 2000 UNESCO Earth Charter. Today, it is our responsibility to start afresh to tackle global challenges, such as extreme poverty, migratory flows and environmental degradation. Former UNESCO director general,Federico Mayor, calls for the scientific, academic, artistic and intellectual communities to mobilise citizens of the world, so that they adopt the required corrective measures, before we reach a point of no return.

Does Science 2.0 foster greater academic freedom?

Academic freedom, which confers scientists some autonomy on how they wish to conduct research and to teach has been gradually eroded as research has increasingly become more of an industry, managed like a business. Now, there is some hope that some of the biases introduced in this process could soon be alleviated thanks to open science. But it may be too soon to realise what the actual implications are.

The ethics of intervening in addicts’ lives

Philosophical puzzles apply in public health too. In addiction, there is a subtle balance between the rights and responsibilities of the individual and the State. Particularly, when it comes to intervening in the lives of people addicted to substances such as tobacco, alcohol, or illegal drugs. Here, Julian Kinderlerer, professor of intellectual property law at Cape Town University, South Africa, who is also president of the European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies (EGE), outlines all the facets of the ethical dilemma associated with State intervention towards addiction, and places the role of scientists and ethicists in informing a balanced debate.

The logic behind the Stop Vivisection campaign

An anti-vivisection citizen initiative has gathered over 1.2 milion signatures. Despite lengthy debates related to the Directive on the use of animal in research, anti-vivisection campaigner still oppose any use of animals in research. The initiators of the petition, who include some scientists, argue that animal studies cannot predict how humans respond to drugs or chemicals. The move has triggered a strong response from the science community. Yet, some anticipate there could be a better way of dealing with such issues involving greater citizen engagement.

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René von Schomberg: Innovation is not inherently good

Science is not neutral. It can have both positive and negative consequences. Scientists increasingly have to face the ethical dilemma of the consequences of their research. And, thus, their responsibility in science governance. Examples from biotechnology, and nanotechnologies, show that the negotiation of responsibility between scientists and the outside world is still a crucial issue in modern research.

Ready for third generation of science communicators?

Science is more politicised than ever. And its communication, in an increasingly diverse media environment, has become highly complex, often relying on dozens of experts in a single institution alone. As a result, science communicators need new management qualifications such as governance and controlling, public affairs and crisis management, risk communication and public engagement. It is about time that science communication training programmes catch up with the new science context. This is why, in September 2014, the first students will attend the newly launched undergraduate course in Science Communication at Rhine-Waal University of Applied Sciences (RWU), in Kleve, Germany.

Special Issue: Ethics – Print Edition

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