This week at the Progress Educational Trust (19 January 2015)
The Progress Educational Trust (PET) is back in London, after several days exhibiting at the 'Fertility 2015' conference in Birmingham. This conference was organised jointly by the Association of Clinical Embryologists, the British Fertility Society and the Society for Reproduction and Fertility, and it provided PET Director Sarah Norcross with an ideal opportunity to discuss the charity's work with old friends and new faces alike.
PET would like to thank the many people who came to its exhibition stand and told Sarah how much they enjoyed reading its flagship publication BioNews, more on which below. PET would also like to thank its stalwart supporter Dr Sue Avery, Director of Birmingham Women's Hospital's Fertility Centre, for proudly wearing an 'I ♥ PROGRESS' badge while delivering the conference's opening lecture! Plans are now afoot for Sue and her colleagues at the British Fertility Society to collaborate with PET on a public event towards the end of April - watch this space.
More immediately, PET's main focus is regulations permitting mitochondrial donation which have been laid before Parliament by the UK Government, and which are due to be debated in Parliament within the next few weeks. For many years now, PET has been campaigning alongside other organisations for such regulations to be passed, thereby giving hope to those who wish to avoid the transmission of devastating and often fatal mitochondrial diseases from mother to child. This week, Sarah attended a briefing on mitochondrial donation organised in the Houses of Parliament by the All Party Parliamentary Groups for Muscular Dystrophy and Medical Research.
As well as providing a valuable update on the science and ethics of this area, this briefing also gave Sarah a welcome opportunity to discuss the issues raised with PET's Patron Baroness Mary Warnock. It was Baroness Warnock who actually established the UK's current framework of fertility and embryo research regulation, with the publication of the landmark Warnock Report more than three decades ago, and she continues to take a keen interest in new legislation built on this foundation.
Finally, PET has been casting an eye over the past year's web traffic, to compile its annual list of the 10 most read BioNews articles. As you can see below, the most read news story in 2014 concerned the possibility that human genes linked with autoimmune diseases were originally acquired through interbreeding with Neanderthals. Mitochondrial donation also attracted considerable interest last year, with a news article and a comment piece on the subject both featuring in the top five most read articles. Look out for plenty more coverage of mitochondrial donation on BioNews, as the subject is debated in Parliament and as PET firms up plans for a related public event.
If you want to receive articles like this for free every week, all you need to do is subscribe to BioNews here. Spread the word!