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Professor Kathryn Wood from the University of Oxford will be swapping a lab coat for legislation, when she visits Ms Nicola Blackwood, MP for Oxford West and Abingdon, at the House of Commons for a “Week in Westminster” commencing Monday 2 December as part of a unique ‘pairing’ scheme run by the Royal Society – the UK’s national academy of science.

During her visit Professor Wood will shadow her MP pair and learn about her work, as well as attending Prime Minister’s Question Time and meeting Professor David MacKay FRS, Chief Scientific Advisor to the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC).  The visit will provide Professor Wood with a behind-the-scenes insight into how science policy is formed as well as an understanding of the working life of an MP.

Professor Wood said: “My research focuses on improving the success of organ transplants in patients – it has the potential to change lives, but ultimately it can only be successful if scientific results are carried all the way through into policies which shape the care transplant recipients receive in the operating theatre, on the transplant ward and in the outpatient clinics.  I hope this opportunity will allow me to see how science and health policies are developed and progress through parliament, and to understand how scientists can be more effective partners in the translation of basic laboratory science into healthcare policy and patient care”.

The Royal Society’s MP-Scientist pairing scheme aims to build bridges between parliamentarians and some of the best scientists in the UK. It is an opportunity for MPs to become better informed about science issues and for scientists to understand how they can influence science policy. Over 200 pairs of scientists and MPs have taken part in the scheme since it was launched in 2001.

Sir Paul Nurse, President of the Royal Society said:

“We live in a world facing increasing challenges that can only be addressed with a clear understanding of science.  From climate change to influenza outbreaks, GM food to nuclear power, our MPs have to make decisions about complex issues that will affect the lives of all those in the UK and, in many cases, more widely throughout the world.  This means that MPs and scientists have a responsibility to engage with each other to get the best possible scientific advice into public policy making.

We set up the Royal Society’s MP Scientist pairing scheme in 2001 to provide the opportunity for MPs and scientists to build long-term relationships with each other and have now organised over two hundred pairings. 

I know many parliamentarians and scientists who have gained from the scheme, and the shaping of public policy can only improve over time as these relationships continue to grow.”

Further information about the Royal Society Pairing Scheme, as well as case studies, can be found at the following link: http://royalsociety.org/training/pairing-scheme/

For more information about Professor Wood’s research please see Transplantation Research Immunology Group (TRIG)

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