This week at the Progress Educational Trust (3 February 2016)
It's a busy time at the Progress Educational Trust (PET), following the news that the UK's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has granted a licence for the Francis Crick Institute to use genome editing in human embryo research.
PET Director Sarah Norcross has been talking to the national and international media about what this means. This week has seen Sarah interviewed about genome editing on TV's BBC News and Sky News, while on radio you can hear Sarah interviewed:
German reporters also visited the PET office to speak to Sarah, interviewing her for Germany's most watched news programme Tagesschau (watch the item here) and also for a radio item (listen to it here, or see a transcript in German here). Meanwhile, Sarah is quoted in news coverage of genome editing by the Guardian (see here), the Washington Post (see here), CNN (see here), Reuters (see here) and Agence France-Presse (see here).
Sarah managed a remarkable (and ethically sound!) feat of cloning this week, when she appeared on BBC1 at exactly the same time as she was discussing genome editing on Sky News. Sarah was featured on the BBC programme Inside Out, in an item focusing on the 'postcode lottery' whereby the provision of NHS-funded fertility treatment is wildly uneven - you can watch the programme here (the relevant item begins at the 10:30 mark), and you can watch a clip featuring Sarah and read an accompanying article here.
Sarah was also interviewed about the IVF postcode lottery by ITV News this week - you can watch the three-minute interview here (the third video down on that webpage). On both Inside Out and Calendar, she was speaking in her capacity as Co-Chair of the campaigning organisation Fertility Fairness.
One thing that embryo research and fertility treatment have in common (besides the fact they both involve embryos) is that they are both licensed by the HFEA. This regulator would not exist, were it not for work done by one woman in particular - PET's Patron Baroness Mary Warnock. More than 30 years ago, Baroness Warnock chaired a Committee of Inquiry into Human Fertilisation and Embryology whose report - often referred to simply as the Warnock Report - is perhaps the world's most influential analysis of the ethics of using embryos in research and treatment. This report laid the foundation for the HFEA to be established, and for much else besides.
Sarah, together with PET Trustee Dr Sue Avery and PET Adviser Dr Kirsty Horsey, recently met with Baroness Warnock at her home. What followed was an in-depth conversation about the landmark report, the impact that the report continues to have, and the past, present and future of assisted conception and related research. You can watch a video of the entire conversation below, and you can read an accompanying article in PET's BioNews publication here.