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This document is part of the Progress Educational Trust (PET)'s reports and accounts for the year ended 31 March 2012, as submitted to the Charity Commission.
The charity's 2014, 2013, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008 and 2007 reports and accounts are also available on this website.

Trustees' Report for the year ended 31 March 2012

The Trustees present their report for the period ended 31 March 2012.
The accounts have been prepared in accordance with the accounting policies set out in note 1 to the accounts and comply with the Companies Act 2006 and the and the Statement of Recommended Practice Accounting and Reporting by Charities, issued in March 2005.

Charity information
Trustees: Professor Marcus Pembrey (Chair)
Dr Jess Buxton (appointed 8 December 2011)
Professor John Galloway (appointed 8 December 2011)
Tony Hickinbotham
John Parsons
Laura Riley (appointed 13 April 2011)
Advisory Committee: James Lawford-Davies (Chair)
Professor Colin Blakemore
Pat Bristow
Dr Jess Buxton (until December 2011)
Kerry Dyus
Fiona Fox
Simon Freeman
Professor John Galloway (until December 2011)
Dr Evan Harris
Harry Hart
Dr Tessa Homfray
Dr Kirsty Horsey
Ben Jones
Dr Fred Kavalier
Alastair Kent
Stuart Lavery
Fiona Miller
Dr Stephen Minger
Dr Anna Smajdor
Dr Alan Thornhill
Patron: Baroness Mary Warnock
Company details: Company limited by guarantee registered in England and Wales number 07405980
Registered charity number 1139856
Principal address/
registered office:
140 Gray's Inn Road, London, WC1X 8AX, UK
Auditors: Gerald Edelman, 25 Harley Street, London W1G 9BR, UK
Bankers: Royal Bank of Scotland, 28 Cavendish Square, London W1M 0DB, UK
Charities Aid Foundation Bank, 25 Kings Hill Avenue, Kings Hill, West Malling, Kent ME19 4QJ, UK

Structure, governance and management
The charity was incorporated as a company limited by guarantee in October 2010 and on 1 April 2011 took over the assets, and assumed the liabilities, of its predecessor charity of the same name. The predecessor was originally established in May 1992 as an unincorporated charitable trust. The charitable company is governed by its memorandum and articles of association.
The charity is managed by a board of Trustees who are the directors of the company and appointed in accordance with the articles of association. At inception three Trustees were appointed. The Trustees can appoint additional Trustees by invitation and an additional three Trustees have since been appointed. The memorandum and articles of association state there must be a minimum number of Trustees in office of three and there is no maximum number.
The Trustees, who are directors of the company for the purposes of company law and who served during the period, were:
Professor Marcus Pembrey (Chair)
Dr Jess Buxton (appointed 8 December 2011)
Professor John Galloway (appointed 8 December 2011)
Tony Hickinbotham
John Parsons
Laura Riley (appointed 13 April 2011)
None of the Trustees has any beneficial interest in the company. All of the Trustees are members of the company and guarantee to contribute the sum of £10 each in the event of a winding up.
All Trustees give freely of their time and no remuneration or benefits are paid to them.
All Trustees are kept up to date with ongoing developments in charity law and practice with appropriate training courses being considered if appropriate. It is the policy of the Trustees to provide new Trustees with all relevant information appertaining to the charity and its affairs upon induction in order that they can obtain a sufficient level of knowledge to enable them to perform their roles effectively.
The Trustees met five times during the year. The decisions of the Trustees are recorded by written minutes. Daily management of the Trust is the responsibility of Sarah Norcross and her team. The Trustees also refer to the Advisory Committee set up to assist them on matters relating to the activities of the charity.
The Trustees have assessed the major risks to which the charity is exposed, and are satisfied that systems are in place to mitigate exposure to those risks.

Advisory Committee
The Advisory Committee has a breadth of skills and experience in genetics, embryology, assisted reproduction, stem cell research, clinical practice, media, education, information technology, business, commercial practices, law, medical ethics and charity management.
The Committee met three times during the year. At their meetings the Advisers discuss informally with each other, with staff and with Trustees and participate in a more formal session when specific questions are tabled and addressed. In addition, individual Advisers are consulted by the Director on an ad hoc basis.

The charity's Patron is Baroness Mary Warnock, philosopher and Crossbench Peer in the House of Lords. Baroness Warnock chaired the Committee of Inquiry into Human Fertilisation and Embryology, whose 1984 report (.pdf 769KB) - often referred to simply as the Warnock Report - is perhaps the world's most influential analysis of the ethics of assisted conception and embryo research. The UK authorities still abide by this report's recommendations.

Objectives and activities
The charitable company's object is to advance the education of the public in general (and in particular amongst those concerned with genetic disease and infertility) in the fields of human genetics, assisted conception and embryology including their ethical and regulatory aspects.
In carrying out this review, the Trustees have referred to the Charity Commission's general guidance on public benefit, and in particular its supplementary public benefit guidance on the advancement of education. The Trustees consider how planned activities will contribute to the objects of the charity.
The Trustees review the aims, objectives and activities of the charity each year. There is a rolling evaluation of its activities at both Trustees' and Advisory Committee meetings.

Main Objectives and Strategies and Public Benefits
The fundamental objective of the Progress Educational Trust (PET) is to create an environment in which ethically sound research and practice in genetics, assisted conception, embryo/stem cell research and related areas will thrive. The ultimate beneficiaries are families threatened by genetic disease or infertility, including parents aspiring to give birth to healthy children. One in six couples in the UK is affected by infertility and 2-3% of births result in babies with either congenital or genetically determined abnormalities.
The wellbeing of such patients is enhanced not only by direct medical help, but also by a fuller understanding of their condition. Assisted conception and genetics are fast-moving areas of science which are tightly regulated and the public struggle to keep up with the science, policies and ethics involved. PET seeks to educate not only those with a personal interest in these fields, but also those with a professional interest.
PET's strategy to achieve these objectives in 2011-2012 has been to provide and encourage authoritative and balanced information, comment and debate on topical and contentious issues arising in its fields. PET has operated in the civic space between government/regulators, scientists, and practitioners, and those who are directly or potentially affected by developments in genetics, assisted conception and embryo/stem cell research. PET has sought to bring timely influence to bear on policymakers as new advances and issues have arisen.
PET has continued to do this through its weekly email news digest, commentary service and website BioNews, through public debates and an annual conference, and through working with the media and other interested parties. BioNews is free of subscription charges, and has a wide readership which is estimated to be in the region of 18,000.
PET strives to make contact with a wide range of age and interest groups and to educate the public about the complex scientific, ethical and social issues which arise from genetics, assisted conception and embryo/stem cell research. PET's public events are mostly free of charge, and are supported by donations or grant funding. Where a charge is made, for example at PET's annual conference, concessions are offered for students, pensioners and those on benefits. All PET events are widely advertised, so as to attract a large and diverse audience.
More than 500 people attended PET events held during this year. Reports of the events, and comment pieces by some of the event speakers, were published in BioNews in order that those who could not attend could nonetheless read about each event online. This widens the reach of PET events, and together with the media coverage that these events attract, helps to bring informed debate to an even wider audience.
The benefits of PET's activities were carefully balanced against any potential harm or detriment. For example, some of PET's activities this year involved debate about racial classification, and so care was taken to ensure that the relevant issues were handled with due sensitivity.
Collaborations with reputable and established organisations are being maintained and expanded, in order to enable PET to reach a larger audience. Communication is central to PET's work, and PET will continue to engage with its audience via the spoken word, print publications and websites.

Development activities and achievements
BioNews is the charity's free online news service and comment resource. In 2011, PET's pioneering work on BioNews led to the charity being one of eight shortlisted in the 'Best Use of the Web' category at the Charity Times Awards, which celebrate best practice in the management of UK charities. The 'Best Use of the Web' award celebrates innovative and effective use of the web, including Web 2.0 technologies, usability and accessibility, and how well the website contributes to the organisation's goals.
It was gratifying for PET to see BioNews acknowledged in this way, and in such illustrious company (the award was ultimately won by the Samaritans). This was all the more gratifying, in light of the fact that PET is a small charity and its recent improvements to BioNews have been achieved to time, to budget and to specification, with a full-time equivalent of just three members of staff working on the publication, and with no disruption to the publication's weekly publishing schedule.
Besides this accolade, work on optimising the search engine prominence of BioNews continued to be undertaken, as consequence of which the website's prominence on Google and elsewhere continues to be high. BioNews is recognised as a news source on Google News, helping boost traffic and extending the reach of BioNews to people with no prior knowledge of BioNews or of PET.
Between 1 April 2011 and 31 March 2012, there were 301,927 visits to the BioNews website, which is an average of more than 827 visitors per day and a 22% increase on the previous year. An average of 1.6 pages was visited per website visit, and visitors spent an average of 1 minute 16 seconds on the site.
The geographic reach of BioNews is wide.
UK: 96,794 visits
USA: 101,003 visits
Canada: 17,713 visits
Australia: 15,859 visits
BioNews has attracted a growing number of subscribers. Since 1 November 2010, the number of subscriptions to BioNews has risen by 177.
This year the number of visitors from the USA surpassed those in the UK.
The BioNews newsletter has attracted a growing number of subscribers. Since 1 April 2011, the number of subscriptions to BioNews has risen by 344 to 5,553.
BioNews has continued to attract a wide variety of writers for its opinion pieces, ranging from Members of Parliament and chief executives of charities, to genetic counsellors and eminent stem cell scientists, to solicitors and private sperm donors. Comment pieces have also been contributed from academics and researchers based in Australia, Canada, Germany, Israel, the UK and the USA. The number of volunteer writers contributing news articles and reviews to BioNews has also continued to grow.
PET and BioNews have a growing presence on the social networking platforms Facebook and Twitter. Hyperlinks to BioNews articles have been disseminated via these platforms, and work has continued to increase the number of followers that PET and BioNews have on each of these platforms.
One of the ways that PET seeks to increase the reach of BioNews while securing much-needed revenue is by syndicating BioNews articles for print publication. For example, 2011 saw a BioNews article about the first 'saviour sibling' stem cell transplant performed in UK republished in the book Biotechnology and Cloning, part of the Issues series for 14-18 year olds from Independence Educational Publishers.
Internships on BioNews
The BioNews internship scheme, which trains postgraduate students in the art of science writing, has continued to flourish. Life sciences, biomedical sciences and law PhD students from leading universities participate each term, gaining practical news writing experience under the expert supervision of BioNews editors.
PhD students undertaking internships at BioNews are drawn from University College London and King's College London, with two students from the former and one from the latter completing internships each term. In the first term of 2011, PET ran four concurrent BioNews internships for the first time, with the addition of a student from Queen Mary University of London.
All BioNews interns to date have completed the course. All have benefited from and enjoyed their participation and have provided PET with positive feedback. Many former interns go on to join the regular pool of volunteer BioNews writers, and PET continues to liaise with these writers and encourage the development of their careers. For example, 2011 saw one former BioNews intern (Marianne Neary) shortlisted for the Wellcome Trust Science Writing Prize. Also in 2011, two former BioNews interns (Mehmet Fidanboylu and Tamara Hirsch) were finalists in the highly competitive Biotechnology Young Entrepreneurs Scheme.
BioNews Fundraising Appeal
The BioNews Fundraising Appeal was launched just before Christmas 2011 and a range of tactics were used to entice BioNews subscribers to donate. The appeal was more successful than earlier appeals perhaps because of the increased number of ways in which people can donate to PET. For the first time this included JustTextGiving allowing people to donate by text with no administrative charges deducted from the donation.
Annual Conference
The Best Possible Start in Life: The Robust and Responsive Embryo
PET's annual conference was held on 23 November 2011 at University College London's Institute of Child Health.
What was it about? Until the 1978 birth of Louise Brown, the first person to be born following IVF, there was considerable scepticism not only about whether fertilisation could occur in vitro, but also about whether a human embryo could successfully be cultured in the laboratory before being transferred to the mother's uterus. That the embryo can survive in a synthetic culture system testifies to a remarkable robustness. But paradoxically, while the embryo is robust it is also responsive. Advances in fields including embryology, genetics and now epigenetics continue to reveal myriad ways in which the circumstances of the embryo's early development influence not only the likelihood of successful pregnancy and birth, but also the development and health of the resulting child.
A growing tendency towards delaying conception has increased both the demand for IVF and the difficulty of improving IVF success rates, which remain relatively low. If success rates are to be improved, and the health of children born via IVF is to be maximised, then several challenges need to be met. Eggs (oocytes) must be produced, retrieved and selected in the optimum way; the embryos that result from fertilising these eggs must be cultured and selected in the optimum way; and transfer to the prospective mother's uterus must take place in the optimum way and at the optimum time. Additionally, if the embryos in question have been frozen and stored (cryopreserved), then they must be cooled and thawed in the optimum way and at the optimum time.
Precisely what constitutes the 'optimum' in each of these instances is a subject of considerable debate among clinicians and researchers. This conference explored, for the benefit of the lay public and professionals alike, contrasting views of how best to assure the success of assisted conception and the health of the embryo, in the context of the latter's robustness and responsiveness. In the PET tradition, following introductory presentations, the bulk of each session's running time was devoted to discussion with input from the audience.
Speakers: Professor Daniel Brison (Scientific Director of Reproductive Medicine at St Mary's Hospital)
Jane Denton (Director of the Multiple Births Foundation)
Dr Simon Fishel (Managing Director of CARE Fertility)
Alan Handyside (Consultant in Preimplantation Genetics and Screening at the London Bridge Fertility, Gynaecology and Genetics Centre)
Marilyn Monk (Emeritus Professor of Molecular Embryology at the Institute of Child Health)
Gudrun Moore (Professor of Clinical and Molecular Genetics at the Institute of Child Health)
Luciano Nardo (Director of GyneHealth, Northwest Fertility and Conceive International)
Helen Picton (Professor of Reproduction and Early Development at the University of Leeds)
Professor André Van Steirteghem (Editor-in-Chief of the journal Human Reproduction)
Dr Maureen Wood (Research Embryologist at the University of Aberdeen)
Chairs: Dr Virginia Bolton (Cofounder of PET and Consultant Embryologist at Guy's Hospital)
Bobbie Farsides (Professor of Clinical and Biomedical Ethics at Brighton and Sussex Medical School)
Anthony Rutherford (Chair of the British Fertility Society)
Zoe Williams (Columnist at the Guardian newspaper)
Audience: There were 125 attendees. These included academics, ethicists, fertility doctors, nurses and counsellors, journalists, lawyers, patients, policymakers, practitioners, regulators and students. Other charities including Daisy Network, the Donor Conception Network and the National Gamete Donation Trust sent representatives to the conference.
Impact: In the evaluation forms completed by conference attendees 100% of respondents said that they were better informed as a result of having attended the conference. 40% of attendees had not attended a PET event before. To quote one attendee: 'I am a non-medic and found the whole day very informative. I left much wiser than when I arrived.'
The conference benefited from financial support including an unrestricted educational grant from Merck Serono, and additional support from Ferring Pharmaceuticals. The Trustees want their gratitude for this crucial financial support to be on record.
Parliamentary and Policy Work
PET continued its work in relation to the proposed abolition of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), following debate of the Public Bodies Bill in both Houses of Parliament until the Bill received Royal Assent and became the Public Bodies Act in December 2011. This legislation empowers the UK Government to transfer the HFEA's functions elsewhere.
BioNews reported on Parliamentary debates about the new legislation in greater detail than any other publication with a lay readership. PET also monitored developments at the HFEA itself in relation to the latter's prospective demise, and monitored relevant developments at the regulator to which the majority of the HFEA's powers are most likely to be transferred, the Care Quality Commission.
Even as the HFEA's future was in doubt, it was making thoroughgoing changes to its sperm and egg donation policies. The HFEA consultation Donating Sperm and Eggs: Have Your Say (to which PET submitted a substantial response) closed in April 2011, and at meetings in July and October 2011 the HFEA made some of the most far-reaching decisions of its 20-year existence, including drastic changes to how much and what sort of compensation (financial and otherwise) donors are permitted to receive for their donation.
PET attended these meetings and reported on them for BioNews, explaining in clear terms what was decided and what the ramifications would be. PET was especially pleased that the documents compiled and circulated by the HFEA at this time quoted an argument from PET's response to Donating Sperm and Eggs: Have Your Say, in which PET said that 'just as people help one another overcome adversity, so helping one another overcome infertility should be recognised as an important part of social solidarity'.
Besides the HFEA, PET also took an interest in the fortunes of another organisation which deals with sperm and egg donation, and whose existence was also placed in doubt by changes to Government policy during this period. UK DonorLink is a voluntary contact register for UK adults who donated sperm or eggs, or who were conceived using donor sperm or eggs, before the HFEA came into existence in 1991. In August 2011, it became clear that UK DonorLink was under threat of closure due to imminent withdrawal of government funding.
PET Director Sarah Norcross wrote a letter to Public Health Minister Anne Milton, arguing that withdrawal of funding was inconsistent with government policy in other areas, and that UK DonorLink is too crucial, sensitive and specific a service to be cast to the vagaries of the marketplace. The plight of UK DonorLink was also brought to public attention by PET in BioNews articles about the BBC1 programme Donor Mum: The Children I've Never Met, which depicted a meeting between a woman and the 19-year-old twins born from her egg donation - a meeting that was only possible because of the crucial role played by UK DonorLink.
Another focus of PET's policy work in 2011-2012 was the development of two new 'mitochondrial exchange' techniques - pronuclear transfer and maternal spindle transfer - which, potentially, could be used to avoid the transmission of inherited mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) disease, which often causes stillbirth or early infant death and which is debilitating to those who live with it. It is not currently legal in the UK to test mitochondrial exchange techniques in a clinical trial. PET adopted a clear position in support of the further development and testing of mitochondrial exchange, and in support of changing the law so tp permit clinical trials.
At the beginning of the financial year, PET Director Sarah Norcross - together with the heads of the Academy of Medical Sciences, the Association of Medical Research Charities, Genetic Alliance UK, the Medical Research Council, the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign and the Wellcome Trust - wrote a letter to the UK's Secretary of State for Health, Andrew Lansley, urging him to introduce the necessary new regulations. Sarah Norcross also issued a statement to the press, calling urgently upon Andrew Lansley to set out a timetable for the introduction of the relevant regulations, before UK research into mitochondrial exchange disease lost its funding and its momentum.
PET also helped to coordinate the work of a wide variety of organisations and individuals with an interest in mitochondrial exchange, ensuring that experts in science, media and policy circles were communicating and collaborating. PET believed that this was a very important task, given the scientific complexity and ethical sensitivity of the issue, and the consequent potential for misunderstanding. In particular, PET worked with the Science Media Centre to encourage the use of clear and accurate terminology in media coverage of mitochondrial exchange.
For example, after the HFEA published a report on the safety and efficacy of mitochondrial exchange techniques, it was widely reported that these techniques would result in the creation of embryos with 'three parents'. PET adopted a firm position that this was misleading, and that the word 'parent' was not an accurate description of someone's relationship to another person to whom they had donated mtDNA only.
Journalists claimed that mitochondrial exchange was 'known as three-parent IVF', when it was not 'known as' this by anyone working in the relevant fields. Although misleading terminology continued to appear, PET had some success in persuading journalists either to avoid using such terminology or to qualify it with caveats and explanations. PET made a point of commending journalists (such as Sarah Boseley at the Guardian newspaper) whose reporting of mitochondrial exchange was by comparison more judicious.
In other areas of policy, Sarah Norcross continued to sit on the the Education, Engagement and Training Working Group of the UK Government's Human Genomics Strategy Group, the National Infertility Awareness Campaign's Committee, the National Gamete Donation Trust's Advisory Council, the Association of Fertility Patient Organisations, Transnational Reproduction's Research Advisory Group, and the Advisory Group for the project 'Assessing Child Welfare under the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act: The New Law' at the University of Kent's Centre for Parenting Culture Studies.
Meanwhile, PET Communications Officer Sandy Starr continued his activities in the field of autism policy and ethics, sitting on the Autism Ethics Group based at the Centre of Medical Law and Ethics at King's College London. In July 2011, the Academy of Medical Sciences published its report Animals Containing Human Material, which concerned the use of animals containing human tissues, cells or genetic information in scientific research and which incorporated evidence submitted by PET/BioNews Legal Editor Antony Blackburn-Starza.
British Society for Human Genetics
As in previous years, PET's expertise was employed by the British Society for Human Genetics (BSHG) in relation to the latter's press office activities. Again, PET ran the press office at the BSHG's annual conference, held at the University of Warwick in September 2011. The conference was attended by five PET representatives - Professor Marcus Pembrey (Founding Chair of Trustees), Sarah Norcross (Director), Sandy Starr (Communications Officer), Dr Rebecca Hill (Genetics Editor) and Kerry Dyus (Volunteer Marketing Manager) - while other PET staff coordinated publicity from London.
As a result of PET's work, Professor Gareth Evans' study of how genetic risk testing could halve breast cancer rates was covered by both the Times and the Sunday Express, while the Daily Telegraph and Daily Mail both reported on another study led by Professor Evans assessing the effectiveness of ovarian screening. The Daily Mail also reported on work that Professor Lyn Chitty presented at the conference, concerning non-invasive prenatal diagnosis. Elsewhere, the Nursing Times reported on Dr Paul Brennan's examination of the impact of training nurses to carry out genetic testing. These and other stories from the BSHG conference were also covered by PET in BioNews.
In addition to this press work, PET manned an exhibition stand throughout the conference, promoting BioNews and the charity's other initiatives. To this end quiz papers were given away at the PET stand, with questions whose answers could be found by visiting the BioNews website. Those who answered all questions correctly were entered into a prize draw for a bottle of champagne.
Genes, Ancestry and Racial Identity: Does It Matter Where Your Genes Come From?
In April 2011, PET launched a project entitled 'Genes, Ancestry and Racial Identity: Does It Matter Where Your Genes Come From?', which was supported by the Wellcome Trust.
The project was conceived as a response to the increasing prominence of controversies concerning genetics and race. In 2007, Nobel Laureate and genetics pioneer Professor James Watson was prohibited from speaking at London's Science Museum, after reportedly saying that black people were less intelligent than whites. In 2009, Channel 4 broadcast a season of programmes under the heading Race: Science's Last Taboo. 2010 and 2011 saw discussion of genes and race continue to flourish in print, on air and online.
These developments highlighted shortcomings not only in public and media understanding of the relationship between genetics and race, but also in the divergent interpretations of this relationship and the meaning of 'race' promulgated by experts in different fields. This subject is likely to become more contentious as more genes are discovered to which so-called 'racial' attributes can be assigned, and as more people turn to direct-to-consumer genetic tests which (purportedly) reveal where their ancestors came from. These are issues that this project sought to clarify.
One of the programmes presented as part of Channel 4's Race: Science's Last Taboo season was entitled Is It Better To Be Mixed Race?, and was presented by the biologist and author Dr Aarathi Prasad. The programme epitomised a prevailing interest in applying the biological concept of heterosis or 'hybrid vigour' to humans, and conceiving it in terms of race. Dr Prasad, a volunteer writer for BioNews, joined the panel of experts advising on PET's project, and made a further film for Channel 4 entitled Should We Raise Children in Mixed Marriages? that was broadcast during the course of the project.
The project centred around three public debates entitled 'Is There a Place for Race in Biology?', 'Will Pharmacogenetics Lead to Colour-Coded Medicine?' and 'Genetic Medalling'. These events needed careful handling, given the sensitivity surrounding the topics being debated. To ensure that contributions from panel and audience members alike were fielded appropriately, it was decided that PET's Chair of Trustees would chair the first event and PET's Director would chair the second. For the same reason, the chair of the third debate was carefully briefed.
Sensitivity of the topic notwithstanding, the meaning of 'race' was discussed upfront at each of these events, as the speakers thought it relevant and the audience clearly had an appetite to unpack it. To organise frank public debates about such a politically charged subject, without any negative feedback about racism (real or imagined) on the part of panel speakers or audience members, was a significant achievement.
A total of 390 people attended the three events. 79% of attendees who completed evaluation forms stated that they were better informed as a result of attending. 60% had not attended a PET event before, which showed that the project reached a new audience. 80% of attendees rated the experience as excellent or good, and 79% stated that they felt better informed as a result of attending. PET also gathered 'feedback' informally after the two London events, when discussion continued in local pubs. A significant number of people choosing to continue the discussion rather than head straight home is one indicator of a successful event.
PET's first online poll followed the three debates, to gauge public opinion on issues that the project raises. Attendees at each debate were invited to suggest questions for the poll, and this feedback informed both the poll's scope and how the poll questions were framed. This helped avoid an overly prescriptive approach to identifying key issues to take forward, by involving a wider range of people in the process and giving them a stake in the project.
The poll incorporated six questions, which were selected from around 70 suggested by attendees at the three public debates (where possible and appropriate, multiple suggestions were combined into a single question). This was a particularly exciting part of the project, as PET was curious as to what audience members wished to know. Several of these questions had not occurred to the project team - for instance, 'Would you be offended if a medical professional asked to know your race before treating you?'. Another question, 'Can you change your race?', was selected after it prompted a heated debate within the PET office. The poll received 637 responses, which were subsequently analysed and discussed in an article on BioNews.
The project was also the subject of several other BioNews articles, some of which related directly to the project's three events, and some of which examined broader developments that were of relevance to the project. For example, PET was contacted about the project by the Anthony Nolan Research Institute, which is concerned about the shortage of stem cells that can be used to treat blood disorders in black or minority ethnic patients. The organisation wrote a piece for BioNews explaining these facts, and this perspective was incorporated into the project as a whole.
Furthermore, during the course of the project the BBC broadcast a season of programmes entitled Mixed-Race Britain. Two of these programmes - How the World Got Mixed Up and the three-part documentary Mixed Britannia - were reviewed on BioNews as part of the project. Besides the wealth of project-related material published on BioNews, PET Director Sarah Norcross also wrote a piece about the project for the Wellcome Trust's blog.
Is There a Place for Race in Biology?
This event took place on 5 April 2011 at University College London.
What was it about? The relationship between genes, race, ethnicity and identity is one of the most contested and controversial fields of academic inquiry. Historically, it was believed that people were divisible into racial types as a result of human biological variation. In the twentieth century, figures such as Richard Lewontin argued persuasively that this was not the case, and that race was in fact a socially constructed phenomenon.
Unsurprisingly, debate about the meaning of race has been refuelled by recent genetic advances and genome-wide association studies, and persists in both the popular and the scientific press. Whereas race has traditionally been defined either by skin colour and facial features or by geography, it is now becoming possible to search for the meaning of race at the molecular level. For example, it has been claimed that Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry can be traced back three centuries, to one woman.
There has also been a recent surge of interest in the proposition that 'mixed race is better'. In its most popular form, this proposition depends upon a highly questionable application of the biological concept of 'hybrid vigour' to humans. More subtle versions of this idea examine the psychological factors that might lead us to perceive people of mixed race as attractive.
While the scientific evidence does not support the concept of different human 'races', it became clear during this debate that important genetic differences do exist between different human populations. The discussion developed around two major themes. First, the semantic issue of whether the term 'race' - which, in addition to being biologically imprecise, is sullied by its association with slavery, Nazi eugenics and racism - should be abandoned in favour of 'ethnicity', 'ancestry' or some other term. Second, to what extent is identification of genetically distinct populations possible or desirable.
Speakers: Dr Neil Bradman (Chair of University College London's Centre for Genetic Anthropology)
Dr Aarathi Prasad (presenter of the TV programme Is It Better to Be Mixed Race?)
Dr Jim Wilson (Managing Director and Founder of EthnoAncestry)
Chair: Professor Marcus Pembrey (Founding Chair of Trustees at PET)
Impact: 75% of attendees who completed evaluation forms said that they were better informed as a result of having attended the debate. 59% of attendees, a clear majority, had not attended a PET event before. One audience member praised the speaker panel's 'wide-ranging and well argued set of views', while another said the event had 'increased my curiosity on the subject and proved just how complex the debate is'.
The debate was also attended by a group of students from Robert Napier School in Gillingham, where PET's project 'Spectrum of Opinion: Genes, Autism and Psychological Spectrum Disorders' had previously been piloted in 2010. PET received positive feedback on the students' experience at the event, with a teacher who remarked that 'being part of ongoing, scientific debate, with people at the top of their fields is very inspirational for them'.
The event benefited from the provision of a free venue by University College London, as a form of sponsorship in kind.
Will Pharmacogenetics Lead to Colour-Coded Medicine?
This event took place on 10 May 2011 at the University of Liverpool.
What was it about? Pharmacogenetics is a discipline that investigates how genetic variation relates to the effectiveness of drugs stemming from the uniqueness of individual genomes. It is predicated not on race, but on the genetic differences between individuals - a very different concept. Nonetheless, pharmacogenetics has important implications for the concept of race.
Unless and until we introduce universal genetic screening, physicians will require some form of marker to help them identify those individuals they feel are likely to have a certain genetic makeup. Very often, these markers are 'racial'. For example, three specific mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes account for approximately 90 percent of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations identified in Ashkenazi Jews. This is in contrast to the hundreds of unique BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations that genetic testing has turned up in people who are not of Ashkenazi Jewish descent.
Furthermore, genetic variants that influence responses to drugs may be shared by members of a particular racial or ethnic group. BiDil, which treats heart failure, is approved by the USA's Food and Drug Administration specifically to treat African Americans. Thus pharmacogenetics has racial implications, which could prove controversial when it comes to the pricing, availability and incentive to develop drugs that are optimised for particular groups in society. The debate addressed the possibility that stratified medicines would be developed predominantly for the more socioeconomically developed countries, with the result that ethnic groups in other counties would not benefit from future developments.
Speakers: Munir Pirmohamed (Professor of Molecular and Clinical Pharmacology and NHS Chair of Pharmacogenetics at the University of Liverpool)
Dr Richard Tutton (Senior Lecturer in Sociology at Lancaster University)
Stephen Wilkinson (Professor of Bioethics and Head of the Research Centre for Law, Ethics and Society at Keele University)
Chair: Sarah Norcross (Director of PET)
Impact: A remarkable 100% of attendees who completed evaluation forms and returned them to PET had not attended a PET event before, reflecting the fact that PET was holding an event in Liverpool for the first time. Furthermore, 95% of attendees said that they were better informed as a result of having attended. One audience member said 'all speakers made an excellent effort to address the subject in a way that was understandable by the non-specialist', while another said, 'the event has given me great knowledge of pharmacogenetics'.
Genetic Medalling
This event took place on 7 June 2011 at University College London.
What was it about? The remarkable success of East African endurance athletes and sprinters of West African descent fascinates scientists and the public alike, and research to determine the role of genetics in athletic prowess is currently underway. Such work is controversial, because it could bolster arguments that performance is dependent upon race and is different between races, thereby perpetuating racial stereotypes. Moreover, some commentators have questioned the entire biological paradigm that prompts us to anticipate genetic factors in sporting achievement.
If we do find performance-related genes, how might this affect our attitude to sporting ability, fairness, equity and justice? To take an extreme scenario, would it be fair to segregate some sporting events based on 'race' if it turns out that certain 'races' have a genetic advantage? To what extent would such segregation be analogous to the male/female divide, which is also based on a genetic difference, and which is not without its own controversies (for example the recent case of champion runner Caster Semenya, whose gender became a matter of dispute).
This evening debate saw experts with contrasting perspectives discuss the relationship between genetics, sport and race. What might the consequences of this relationship be, for the imminent 2012 Summer Olympics in London? Issues debated included whether athletes are born or built, why certain countries dominate the Olympics, and the legitimacy of using genetic tests to predict sporting prowess.
Speakers: Professor John Dupré (Director of the Centre for Genomics in Society)
Connie St Louis (science writer and broadcaster)
Dr Alun Williams (sport and exercise geneticist at Manchester Metropolitan University)
Chair: Dr Anand Saggar (Senior Consultant in Clinical Genetics at St George's NHS Trust)
Impact: 80% of attendees who completed evaluation forms PET said that they were better informed as a result of having attended the debate, with a similar number rating the overall experience as 'excellent' or 'good'. More than 50% of the audience had not attended a PET debate before, continuing a positive trend that was apparent throughout the 'Genes, Ancestry and Racial Identity' project, and suggesting that PET was engaging with more people than ever before. One audience member said the 'chair was excellent, insightful, funny and good at pulling themes of ideas.' While another said the ' chair was great at encouraging audience participation'.
PET was in contact with Nowgen, the North West Genetics Knowledge Park, during the course of the project, and Nowgen organised its own event on genes and sport entitled 'Field of Genes' after the 'Genetic Medalling' event took place. The two organisations discussed their respective insights into the issue, and the 'Field of Genes' event was reviewed in BioNews. Additionally, PET's phrase 'genetic medalling' was appropriated by the Economic and Social Research Council's Genomic Network after the 'Genetic Medalling' event took place, with variations on the phrase were used prominently on the cover and in the pages of the Genomics Network publication The Gen.
'Genetic Medalling' benefited from the provision of a free venue by the Royal Society of Medicine, as a form of sponsorship in kind.
Work with schools and schoolchildren
PET staff continued to work in various capacities with schools and schoolchildren, as part of the charity's educational remit. PET believes that such work is important in helping students think through complex ethical questions, informing them of the latest scientific and medical advances. Such work may also motivate students to go on to study relevant disciplines in higher education, or to become involved in debates over relevant issues in their future careers.
In February 2012, PET Director Sarah Norcross gave a presentation at Stowe School in Buckingham on the potential role of mitochondrial exchange in treating inherited mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) disease. Sarah spoke to members of the school's Biomedical Society, and after discussing the medical and ethical implications of mitochondrial exchange, the group voted overwhelmingly in favour of permitting its use.
PET Communications Officer Sandy Starr continued his work with the Debating Matters international sixth-form debating competition organised by the Institute of Ideas. In July 2011, Sandy judged the Gina Owens Memorial Prize at the UK National Final of this debating competition. In November 2011, Sandy was a judge at the East London qualifying round of the subsequent phase of the competition. And in February 2012, he participated in showcase event for the competition entitled 'Global Development Debates' organised with, and hosted by, Unilever.
In March 2012, PET/BioNews Genetics Editor Dr Rebecca Hill was a judge at the National Science and Engineering Competition, held as part of the Big Bang Young Scientists and Engineers Fair at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham. Rebecca judged the Senior Science and Maths Award which was presented to the winner by David Willetts, Minister of State for Universities and Science.
PET continued to undertake consultancy work for the charity Jeans for Genes which produce materials on genetics for schools.
Deaf issues
PET continued its work with the deaf community on the genetics of deafness, and on the legal and ethical ramifications of related medical practice.
In July 2011, Sarah Norcross and Sandy Starr participated in a seminar at the Wellcome Collection entitled 'Selective Reproduction: Contemporary Ethical Issues'. Issues discussed included the UK's legal prohibition on the selection of embryos affected by disability, a piece of legislation that PET was heavily involved in debating when it was introduced in 2008. At that time, PET brokered discussions between deaf interest groups and the relevant government authorities, and organised an event for a mixed deaf/hearing audience where the issue was clarified and debated.
One of the speakers at the latter event was Dr Steven Emery of the University of Bristol's Centre for Deaf Studies, who also participated in the July 2011 event with PET. Then in December 2011, Sarah Norcross and Sandy Starr of PET were interviewed by Steven as part of the Centre for Deaf Studies project 'Genetics, Power and Deafhood: Identifying Opposition to Eugenicist Policies'. This is thought to be the UK's first ever deaf-designed and led social sciences research project, and Sarah and Sandy contributed by giving their perspective on how the 2008 legislation was introduced and debated, and the circumstances surrounding PET's involvement.
Progress Educational Trust website
The PET website records an even greater year-on-year increase in visitors than the BioNews website. Between 1 April 2011 and 31 March 2012, there were 32,903 visits to the PET website, which is a staggering 174% increase on the previous year. That represents more than 90 visitors a day on average and more than 83% of these visitors are new visitors more evidence that PET continues to broaden its reach.
New content and features continued to be added to the Progress Educational Trust website throughout the year.
A key feature of the PET website that was significantly expanded was 'This week at the Progress Educational Trust', a feature which was launched in May 2010. This update is posted on the homepage each week, and highlights a selection of PET's activities. PET believes that this feature demonstrates transparency and accountability, and makes information about PET's activities easily accessible. It also provides users with an incentive to visit the website regularly, and assists with search engine optimisation of the website.
The weekly update originally launched as a brief, text-only feature. But in addition to being expanded over the course of the year, images were added to each edition of the update as of October 2011. These images add colour and variety to the homepage, and make the homepage more enticing for regular visitors and newcomers to the website alike. The images usually include photographs of PET Trustees, Staff, Advisers and Volunteers and link through to their biographies, thereby promoting these individuals and adding a personal touch to the charity's reports of its activities, making the homepage more 'sticky' in terms of web usability.
Having previously promoted PET's annual conference in a dedicated 'Events' section of the website, and having introduced a facility whereby attendance at the conference could be paid for online, the charity expanded this section of the website to incorporate details of other PET events. In keeping with the colourful, personalised and 'sticky' approach adopted on the homepage, these events pages were enlivened with inventive promotional images (prior to each event) and with photographs of the event proceedings (after each event).
A 'Policy documents' section was also created on the website, as a repository for PET's responses to consultations and official letters to representatives of the Government. Where consultations contain numerous sections or questions, and where PET's response to each section or question is particularly lengthy, these responses have been published on separate webpages with a single page serving as an index from which they can be accessed.
The 'Events' and 'Policy documents' sections of the website currently contain comprehensive details of events dating back to early 2008, and policy documents going back to early 2009.
The PET website, like the BioNews website, is developed and maintained with a clear search engine optimisation strategy in mind. The aim is to increase traffic to the website, including visits to the website by people with no prior knowledge of, or relationship to, PET, whom the website can help to bring within PET's orbit.
The key strategy used by PET to drive traffic to its website is Google Adwords. PET retained its Google Grant throughout this year, enabling PET to place Google Adwords (up to a daily value of US$329) on Google's Result Page completely free of charge. The effect of this can be seen between April 2011 and March 2012, Google Adwords sent 20,296 visitors to the PET website, 89% of whom were first time visitors. Google Adwords is by far the biggest traffic source for the PET website.
Also demonstrating the power of Google Adwords is the fact that the BioNews page on the PET website was the most visited page on the site for the year, capturing 45% of total traffic. This is because a key Adwords campaign is for BioNews and because the ads can only click through to the PET site, traffic is directed to This also explains why the site’s overall bounce rate is relatively high at 81% - because the strategy is for visitors to look at that page and click through immediately to the BioNews site. This approach also explains why the PET website is the 7th highest traffic source for the BioNews website.
Friends of PET Newsletter
The Friends of PET newsletter 'Progress Report' continued to be published quarterly and distributed to members of the 'Friends of PET' scheme. 'Progress Report' is a means of keeping the Friends up to date with the charity's affairs, and is a benefit that helps incentivise people to join the Friends scheme and thereby provide the charity with much needed financial support.
The Fertility Show
PET exhibited at the Fertility Show in November 2011. 3,291 people attended this event, most of whom were members of the public who were struggling to conceive. The event provided a valuable opportunity for PET to speak to UK fertility patients face-to-face. Visitors to PET's exhibition stand were invited to subscribe to BioNews and were given a complimentary copy of PET's Guide to Genetics.
Six PET representatives attended the event - Director Sarah Norcross, Communications Officer Sandy Starr, Trustee Laura Riley, and Volunteers Kerry Dyus, Daniel Malynn and Ruth Saunders. There were around 100 other exhibitors from the UK and abroad at the event, and as well as manning the PET stand, PET representatives also dedicated some of their time to visiting these other stands and networking.
PET involvement in and attendance at other conferences
PET Staff attended many other conferences and events in 2010-2011. This was valuable for the following reasons:
raising the profile of PET and BioNews and promoting PET events and initiatives;
evaluating the suitability of speakers and experts for future PET events;
commissioning commentaries for BioNews;
horizon scanning and keeping abreast of developments.
Some of the relevant events are listed below.
In June 2010, PET Director Sarah Norcross attended the annual lecture of Sense About Science given by Dr Fiona Godlee, Editor of the British Medical Journal.
In May 2011, PET Director Sarah Norcross attended the annual lecture of Sense About Science given by Richard Evans, Professor of Modern History at the University of Cambridge.
In May 2011, Sarah Norcross attended 'Transcending Kinship: Going Beyond Genetic Connection', the annual study day of the British Infertility Counselling Association.
In May 2011, Sarah Norcross, PET Communications Officer Sandy Starr and PET Volunteer Kerry Dyus attended and manned an exhibition stand at 'The New National Health Service: Will It Deliver Equity and Excellence for Families with Genetic Conditions in the UK?', the annual conference of Genetic Alliance UK.
In June 2011, Sandy Starr attended an event at the Wellcome Collection entitled 'Selective Reproduction, Bioethics and the Idea of Eugenics'.
In June 2011, Sarah Norcross attended an event at the Wellcome Trust entitled 'Clinically Relevant Findings in Research'
In June 2011, Sarah Norcross was a speaker at a panel discussion following a screening of the film Donor Unknown: Adventures in the Sperm Trade at the Ritzy Picturehouse in Brixton.
In June 2011, Sarah Norcross attended a screening of the film Stem Cells: A Vision of the Future at University College London.
In June 2011, Sandy Starr attended a conference entitled 'Imitation in Autism' organised by King's College London at St Albans Conference Centre.
In June 2011, Sarah Norcross attended the Ian Rosenberg Memorial Lecture organised by the London Regenerative Medicine Network.
In June 2011, Sandy Starr and PET/BioNews Genetics Editor Dr Rebecca Hill attended a press conference at the Wellcome Collection to launch the 27th annual meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology.
In June 2011, PET's Founding Chair of Trustees Professor Marcus Pembrey was interviewed as part of a project by the designer Thomas Thwaites entitled 'Unlikely Objects'. This project was the subject of an exhibition at the Luna and Curious, which incorporated the interview with Marcus.
In June 2011, Sandy Starr attended the launch of an exhibition entitled 'See Yourself Sensing: Redefining Human Perception' at the Work Gallery in London.
In July 2011, Sarah Norcross and Sandy Starr attended an event at the Wellcome Collection entitled 'Selective Reproduction: Contemporary Ethical Issues'.
In July 2011, Sarah Norcross attended an event entitled 'Impact' in the 'Science Question Time' series organised jointly by the Biochemical Society, the Campaign for Science and Engineering and Imperial College London.
In July 2011, Dr Rebecca Hill attended an event entitled 'Twitter: A Black Hole for Time or a Great Tool for Engaging?' organised by the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Network and held at the Society of Biology in London.
In July 2011, Dr Rebecca Hill was one of the organisers of the Science Writers' Awards for Britain and Ireland 2011 in London.
In July 2011, Sarah Norcross, Dr Rebecca Hill and BioNews Contributing Editor Ailsa Stevens attended an event entitled 'The Age of Personalised Medicine: Genes, Privacy and Discrimination' organised by BioCentre and the Biochemical Society.
In September 2011, Sandy Starr and PET Volunteer MacKenna Roberts attended a conference entitled 'Human Embryo Research: Law, Ethics and Public Policy', organised by the Anscombe Bioethics Centre and held at the University of Oxford.
In September 2011, Sarah Norcross and Sandy Starr attended the third 'Reproductive Medicine' conference organised by Mark Allen Healthcare and the British Journal of Hospital Medicine, held at the Hallam Conference Centre.
In September 2011, Sandy Starr attended a roundtable discussion entitled 'Public Health and Science: How the Media Deals with Evidence, Risk and Statistics', organised by the Institute of Ideas and SABMiller and held at Morton's club in Mayfair.
In October 2011, PET/BioNews Legal Editor Antony Blackburn-Starza attended the launch of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics report Human Bodies: Donation for Medicine and Research at the Royal Festival Hall.
In October 2011, Sandy Starr attended an event introduced by Professor Nicholas Humphrey, on the subject of his book Soul Dust: The Magic of Consciousness, at Conway Hall.
In October 2011, Sarah Norcross attended an event entitled 'Future of Drugs' in the 'Science Question Time' series organised jointly by the Biochemical Society, the Campaign for Science and Engineering and Imperial College London.
In October 2011, Sarah Norcross attended a Public Understanding of Science Seminar organised by the BIOS Centre for the Study of Bioscience, Biomedicine, Biotechnology and Society, where the results of the latest Public Attitudes to Science study commissioned by the UK Government were discussed.
In October 2011, Dr Rebecca Hill attended two events organised as part of the London Science Festival, entitled 'Searching for the Secret of Life: DNA Then, Now and Tomorrow' and 'Festival of the Spoken Nerd: Shakespeare, Science and the Senses'.
In October 2011, Sarah Norcross, PET Communications Officer Sandy Starr and PET Volunteer Daniel Malynn attended and manned an exhibition stand at 'Gene Therapy and Stem Cells: 21st Century Medicine', organised by the British Society for Gene Therapy and the European Society of Gene and Cell Therapy and held at the Brighton Centre.
In October 2011, Sandy Starr organised and chaired three debates at the 7th annual Battle of Ideas festival organised by the Institute of Ideas at the Royal College of Art. These debates were entitled 'Life off Earth: Are the Aliens Out There?', 'Designer People: Is Technology Making Us Less Human?', and 'Is There a Ghost in the Machine?'. The festival was also attended by BioNews Contributing Editor Dr Vivienne Raper, and films of Sandy's sessions were made by the education charity WORLDwrite and have been made freely available online.
In November 2011, Sarah Norcross - together with PET Advisers Fiona Fox and Dr Fred Kavalier - attended the Wellcome Trust Book Prize ceremony.
In November 2011, Sandy Starr attended an event entitled ' Evaluating Impacts of Public Engagement and Non-Formal Learning: Core Issues and Debates', organised by the University of Warwick at the Science Museum's Dana Centre.
In November 2011, Sarah Norcross attended a panel discussion entitled 'Solidarity in Bioethics' organised by the Nuffield Council on Bioethics.
In December 2011, Sandy Starr attended an event entitled 'Embryonic Stem Cell Research: Beyond Brüstle vs Greenpeace' at the Wellcome Trust.
In January 2012, Sarah Norcross attended the British Fertility Society's Annual Meeting in Leeds.
In January 2012, Sarah Norcross and Professor Marcus Pembrey attended the award ceremony for the 'Research Images as Art/Art Images as Research' competition organised by University College London.
In February 2012, Sarah Norcross and PET Volunteer Maria Taylor attended an even t at the at the Houses of Parliament, marking the launch of a report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Stem Cell Transplantation.
In March 2012, Sarah Norcross spoke at an event entitled 'Assisted Reproduction and Surrogacy: A Modern Approach to Parenthood or Brave New World?' organised by the barristers' chambers 7 Bedford Row in London.
In March 2012, Professor Marcus Pembrey chaired a discussion of multigenerational transmission of psychopathology at the Annual Meeting of he American Psychopathological Association, at the Grand Hyatt New York.
In March 2012, Sarah Norcross attended the launch of 'In the Zone', a Wellcome Trust initiative forming part of the 'Inspire' programme at the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
In March 2012, Dr Rebecca Hill attended a ceremony at the Houses of Parliament, where David Willetts - Minister of State for Universities and Science - commended institutions receiving Degree Accreditation from the Society of Biology.
In March 2012, Professor Marcus Pembrey spoke at a National Members' Meeting of the Donor Conception Network.
In March 2012, Professor Marcus Pembrey spoke at, and Sarah Norcross and Dr Rebecca Hill attended, a meeting of the London Epigenomics Club which took place at the Blizard Institute of Cell and Molecular Science
In addition to the events listed above, throughout the year Sarah Norcross attended several meetings of the London Regenerative Medicine Network.
Throughout the year Sarah Norcross and Sandy Starr also attended, and asked questions from the audience at, several open meetings of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) and the Human Genetics Commission (HGC). These meetings saw the HFEA and the HGC discuss and determine policy and practice on a wide range of issues, and marked some of the most important discussions ever held by either organisation - in the HFEA's case because of far-reaching decisions taken following the consultation Donating Sperm and Eggs: Have Your Say, and in the HGC's case because these were the final meetings in the organisation's 12-year existence (it has now been succeeded by the UK Government's Emerging Science and Bioethics Advisory Committee).
Media coverage
In June 2011, PET Director Sarah Norcross was interviewed on the Drivetime programme on BBC Three Counties Radio, on the subject of the 'postcode lottery' that exists for NHS-funded IVF.
In July 2011, two articles by PET Science Editor Dr Vivienne Raper - entitled 'Mapping the route to retirement' and 'A Nobel Prize winning culture' - were published by the journal Science.
In September 2011, a review by Sarah Norcross of the event 'Transcending Kinship: Going Beyond Genetic Connection' was published in the Journal of Fertility Counselling.
In October 2011, PET Trustee John Parsons was interviewed by the BBC World Service on the subject of changes to sperm and egg donation policy.
In October 2011, BioNews was cited in an article in the London Evening Standard entitled 'Paying donors won't end egg and sperm crisis says doctor'.
In October 2011, an article by PET Communications Officer Sandy Starr entitled 'Would aliens prove that humans are nothing special?' was published by In-Debate magazine.
In November 2011, an article by Sandy Starr entitled 'Surely by now we've outgrown the body?' was published by the Independent newspaper.
In October 2011, an article by PET/BioNews Science Editor James Brooks entitled 'Going to coroner's court' was published by the British Medical Journal.
In November 2011, PET's Founding Chair of Trustees Professor Marcus Pembrey was interviewed in an episode of the TV series Brave New World with Stephen Hawking, broadcast on Channel 4, on the subject of epigenetics.
In November 2011, an article by James Brooks entitled 'Aiming for clinical excellence' was published by the Guardian newspaper.
In January 2012, articles by PET/BioNews Genetics Editor Dr Rebecca Hill entitled 'A wake-up call for dormant genes' and 'Fruitfly genome mapped in three dimensions' were published by the journal Nature.
In March 2012, an article by Dr Rebecca Hill entitled 'Malaria study may lead to better, more efficient drugs' was published by the Science and Development Network.
In March 2012, an article by Dr Rebecca Hill entitled 'Journals call for action on misconduct' was published by the journal Research Fortnight.
In addition to the articles listed above, throughout the year Dr Rebecca Hill wrote several articles about science-inspired art for New Scientist magazine's CultureLab publication.

Operational Achievements
Sarah Norcross (Director), Sandy Starr (Communications Officer) and Antony Blackburn Starza (Legal Editor) continued to work at PET.
Chris Chatterton stepped down as PET/BioNews Genetics Editor in June 2011. In his place, Dr Rebecca Hill was appointed Legal Editor.
Dr Vivienne Raper stepped down as PET/BioNews Science Editor in September 2011, and went on to become a BioNews Contributing Editor. In her place, James Brooks was appointed Science Editor.
PET makes a point of seeking opportunities for its staff to undergo training and participate in relevant courses, in order to develop their skills and improve their performance.
In 2012, both PET Director Sarah Norcross and PET Communications Officer Sandy Starr attended training days organised by the Foundation for Social Improvement. In February Sarah attended a fundraising training day entitled 'Big Gifts Taster Workshop', while in March Sandy Starr attended a social media training day entitled 'Social Media Essentials'.
PET has benefitted from a steady stream of highly motivated and professional volunteers. During 2011 and 2012, these volunteers have undertaken a broad range of activities which range from maintaining and organising the vast BioNews archive to assisting at PET events. Volunteers have also assisted with the accounts and budget, as well as the marketing strategy.
One of PET's volunteers made such a substantial contribution to PET's activities in 2011 and 2012, that she is deserving of special mention. Drawing upon 20 years of previous experience in the corporate sector, Kerry Dyus worked as the charity's Marketing Manager on a voluntary and unpaid basis, and did invaluable work on every aspect of PET's marketing, communications and online strategy.
PET is an equal opportunity organisation, and is committed to a working environment that is free from any form of discrimination on the grounds of colour, race, ethnicity, religion, sex, sexual orientation or disability.
Financial review
The net Incoming resources for the period amounted to £4,353. Incoming resources amounted to £118,274 which is an Increase of 4% compared to the last financial year. This total is mainly represented by income from charitable activities in the sum of £97,247 as detailed in note 4. The majority of the balance of incoming resources consists of donations in the sum of £21,011.
Expenditure amounted to £113,291 which is a decrease of 18% compared to the last financial year. The main constituent of the total relates to salaries. At a cost of £91,428 salaries represented 81% of total expenditure. The decrease compared to 2011 primarily related to a reduction in the costs of website construction (£11,416).
Due in large part to the receipt of grant funding from the Wellcome Trust and Merck Serono, PET's financial situation was satisfactory throughout the year. Net current assets at year end amounted to £21,919. Future financial viability will depend upon the continued support of grant funding bodies, customers £or PET's uniting and training work, sponsors, advertisers and private donors. Future viability will also depend upon PET's many greatly valued Friends, Volunteers and Advisers, without whose support the charity could not survive.

Future Developments
Social networking
PET will continue to reach new audiences through the more effective use of social networking tools such as Facebook and Twitter.
PET will publish the results of a survey of BioNews readers which was conducted in early 2012. The survey was designed to gain an insight into what readers want from BioNews each week and to build a reader profile.
PET also plans to increase the number of BioNews glossary terms during the year.
PET will continue to promote BioNews and to monitor the number of comments on the BioNews website as well as the number of subscribers.
Friends of PET scheme
It is hoped that the number of Friends supporting PET will continue to increase.
Under its project 'When It Takes More Than Two' PET will hold three evening debates on donor conception. PET also plans to hold its annual conference in November 'Fertility treatment: A life changing event?'. Flexibility in the work-plan will allow PET to put on other events as issues arise.
PET will apply for several grants in 2012 and 2013. PET expects to generate revenue from: writing, advisory and consultancy work with other organisations, and from selling advertising space on the PET and BioNews websites and in the BioNews email newsletter.
It is hoped to increase the ad hoc donations it receives at events through JustTextGiving.
Gerald Edelman were appointed auditors to the company. A resolution proposing that they be reappointed will be put to the members.

Statement of disclosure to the auditors
Each of the Trustees has confirmed that there is no relevant audit information of which the charity's auditors are unaware. They have further confirmed that they have taken all the steps that they ought to have taken as Trustees in order to make themselves aware of any relevant audit information and to establish that the charity's auditors are aware of that information.
This report is prepared in accordance with the small company regime under section 419(2) of the Companies Act 2006.

This report was approved by the Trustees on 4 July 2012 and signed on their behalf by Professor Marcus Pembrey (Trustee).