Innogen · News · May 27, 2013

The changing governance of embryo research?

Gillot's paper published in New Genetics in Society

The UK has a long history of internationally respected research in genetics, embryology and assisted conception. However, since the 1980s controversies have erupted over specific issues that have directly impacted the governance of embryo research. In research recently published in a special issue of New Genetics in Society, Dr John Gillott of the Innogen Institute at the Open University undertook an examination of the continuities and discontinuities of this issue in order to identify some of those governance changes.

Dr Gillott’s findings have shown that, over the past 10-15 years, the governance of embryo research in the UK is still relatively “top down” and guided by a specific legal framework and a single regulator. However, the Government and the regulator have jointly downplayed the idea of government controlling the actions of others and adopted a more consultative approach to policy making.

As a result, novel though not entirely positive outcomes have emerged for natural scientists. If in the past 20 years one trend has been in the direction of normalising embryo research, a corollary of that trend has been that some areas of research and innovation have become normally problematic. This, ultimately, has implications for whether the UK must develop research within the mainstream or innovate at the edges of knowledge.

The article “The changing governance of embryo research?” is published in the special issue New Genetics in Society: The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 and the full text can be found at:

Dr John Gillot