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21 years of the Progress Educational Trust (PET), informing debate on assisted conception and genetics

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This week at the Progress Educational Trust (21 May 2015)

''A TripAdvisor for Fertility Clinics - Would You Recommend It?', organised by the Progress Educational Trust

The Progress Educational Trust (PET) has been going through audience feedback from its recent event 'A TripAdvisor for Fertility Clinics - Would You Recommend It?', which was sponsored by the British Fertility Society. This event addressed proposals by the UK's fertility regulator, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), to publish patient feedback on clinics - which means that PET has been in the interesting position of going through feedback from a debate about feedback!

Comments from attendees included:

  • 'All presentations were brilliant and well discussed, well planned. An interesting evening with great speakers and a needed debate.'

  • ''A TripAdvisor for Fertility Clinics - Would You Recommend It?', organised by the Progress Educational Trust'Good points made pro and con, and straight to the topic.'

  • 'Excellent chairman.'

  • 'Loved having the solicitor's view - very different to the views I usually hear as a healthcare professional.'

If you missed the event, not to worry - Pod Academy has produced a 70-minute podcast of the proceedings, which you can listen to using the player below (or alternatively, you can download the podcast by clicking here).

Additionally, PET has just published a written synopsis of the event on BioNews - the charity's flagship publication, which recently celebrated its landmark 800th edition. You can subscribe to BioNews here to be kept up-to-date with the latest news and commentary on assisted conception and genetics, including reports and podcasts of PET events. Also be sure to read this article about the BioNews 800 Appeal, and then make a donation of £8 (or more!) by clicking here.

''A TripAdvisor for Fertility Clinics - Would You Recommend It?', organised by the Progress Educational Trust

As well as going through audience views, PET was also keen to find out what the HFEA itself thought of the 'TripAdvisor for Fertility Clinics' event. PET's Director Sarah Norcross and Communications Officer Sandy Starr attended an HFEA Open Authority Meeting, where Juliet Tizzard reported on PET's event (having represented the regulator on the speaker panel) and where the event was also discussed by the regulator's Chief Executive Peter Thompson and Chair Sally Cheshire.

Sarah Norcross, Director of the Progress Educational Trust (PET) and Commissioning Editor of PET's flagship publication BioNews

Another major topic of discussion at the HFEA meeting was mitochondrial donation - that is, techniques to avoid the transmission of mitochondrial diseases from mother to child. The clinical use of mitochondrial donation will be regulated by the HFEA once a new law comes into force in October - PET played a crucial role in Parliament's decision to pass this law, having campaigned on the issue for many years. This is why Sarah Norcross has also been busy at the annual conference of the British Infertility Counselling Association, where she gave a presentation on what mitochondrial donation entails and how the relevant techniques will be regulated.

Sandy Starr, Communications Officer at the Progress Educational Trust (PET) and Webmaster of PET's flagship publication BioNews

Meanwhile, Sandy Starr addressed a somewhat younger audience this week, when he gave a talk to pupils at the East London Science School. The pupils were participating in a Debating Matters debate about whether or not our intelligence is determined by our genes, and - as pictured below - Sandy helped them prepare by introducing the wide range of views that exist on this question. He drew upon contrasting expert opinions from past events organised by PET, such as the conference 'Double Take: Twins in Genetics and Fertility Treatment' - which, as reported by the Independent newspaper, included a lively debate about twin studies, genetics and educational achievement.

Sandy Starr speaking to pupils at the East London Science School

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