Public lecture will examine the challenges around stem cell research

30 July 2008

Professor Andrew Webster
Professor Andrew Webster

When it comes to the stem cell debate, it seems everyone has an opinion. Professor Andrew Webster, a leading UK sociologist, explains why the social sciences get to have their say, too.

Three years ago the UK government set up its Stem Cell Initiative, setting aside £50m to keep Britain at the forefront of stem cell research.

The money was divided between six major funding research councils. In a "pleasantly surprising" decision, the social sciences scored £3.5m. The national co-ordinator of the Economic and Social Research Council Social Science Stem Cell Initiative is Professor Andrew Webster. He calls the decision "a reflection of the fact that the government of the time recognised that there were not only ethical and moral issues" surrounding the stem cell debate.

"Sociologists look at how political systems seek to oversee and govern these types of developments, how regulators on the ground cope with these new challenges, how clinicians and patient advocacy groups regard them, and how the lay public responds," he says.

Professor Andrew Webster is also director of the Science and Technology Studies Unit (SATSU) and Head of Department of Sociology at the University of York in the UK. He will present his public lecture at Sydney University's Eastern Avenue Lecture Theatre on 7 August.

Contact: Claudia Liu

Phone: 02 9351 3191