BioNews is celebrating its 12th birthday this week, with the publication of the 600th edition of its weekly email newsletter. Unfortunately, the razzamatazz ends there due to lack of staff time and money, and celebrations will be limited to a cup of tea and a chocolate biscuit. The Progress Educational Trust (PET), the charity which publishes BioNews, is a lean organisation, and that is why we are asking all our readers to donate to the BioNews Birthday Appeal.
The fact that BioNews is run on a shoestring does not prevent us from taking pride in our achievements. We have trained 20 postgraduate students at University College London and King's College London in the art of science writing, through our internship scheme. There is now a pool of more 40 volunteers writing news stories and reviews for BioNews, and we have often had to turn aspiring volunteer writers away because we have been overwhelmed with applications.
It is not only students who are clamouring to write for us - we are now receiving many more unsolicited commentaries from leaders in the fields of genetic, assisted conception, embryo/stem cell research. Publishers have started sending us books to review without us even asking, and BioNews is now a Google News source, and therefore indexed in real time (rather than intermittently) by Google.
The Progress Educational Trust now has a Facebook page, where we post links to articles and events which we don't always cover in BioNews. Please join the growing number of people who like us on Facebook - click on the 'Like' button to the right of the words 'Progress Educational Trust' at the top of the Facebook page - in order to keep up to date. BioNews is also more accessible than ever, as in addition to choosing from three different types of format in which your BioNews email is delivered, you can also receive articles via our and Twitter feeds.
Readers' satisfaction is of crucial importance to the BioNews team. Last year's BioNews survey provided very positive feedback, and 99 percent of respondents said they would recommend BioNews to a colleague. So it comes as no surprise that our subscriber numbers are steadily increasing.
Later this year we will be conducting our first online poll of readers' views as part of our project Genes, Ancestry and Racial Identity: Does It Matter Where Your Genes Come From?. This poll will follow the three public events we are organising as part of the project - Is There a Place for Race in Biology?, Will Pharmacogenetics Lead to Colour-Coded Medicine? and Genetic Medalling (no that isn't a misspelling!).
How do we do all of this, with the equivalent of just one full-time employee editing BioNews? Sometimes it's a struggle, but the passion of editors Dr Vivienne Raper, Chris Chatterton and Antony Blackburn-Starza for the subject, combined with their professionalism and hard work, ensures that the BioNews email newsletter goes out every Monday without fail.
There are now over 5,000 articles on the BioNews website, making it an invaluable research tool. But how much more can there be to publish on the topics of assisted conception, human genetics and stem cell and embryo research? The answer is, plenty!
The proposed axing of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, the ensuing uncertainty about how assisted conception and embryo research will be regulated in future, and the prospect of new regulation permitting the creation of children using genetic material from more than two people, are just some of the stories which BioNews will be following.
There has never been a greater need for informed debate on the issues raised by these developments. That is why it is so important that you make a donation to BioNews today. The less time we spend fundraising, the more time we can devote to publishing BioNews.
We are asking all our subscribers to donate £12 today, to mark our 12th birthday. Over the course of a year, that works out at less than 25p per edition of BioNews.
Your donation will ensure that BioNews continues to be published, remains freely accessible, and retains its independence. Please wish us many happy returns, by giving what you can to the BioNews Birthday Appeal through Charity Choice or Paypal.