5 things school children should know about animal research

The blog post was originally posted on GlamSci website on 22 March 2017.

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Image: Understanding Animal Research

Smallpox, anthrax, rabies, polio and many other vaccines.; insulin; chemotherapy for leukaemia; asthma medication; combined therapy for HIV infection; medicines for breast and prostate cancer; cervical cancer vaccine. That’s just a handful of world’s major medical advances that animal research has contributed to and I doubt there is anyone who hasn’t benefited from any of them.

The reason I want to talk to you about animal testing is because when I was at school, I knew nothing about it. You might have even done some animal dissection at school, for example, of a frog. I didn’t. In Lithuania (which is where I am from), this subject is pretty much a taboo and that alone makes me want to talk about it with you. Continue reading

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#MoreToScience – what’s it like to be a science writer?

Continuing the GlamSci series, this time about careers outside the lab – science writing.

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I’m very keen on making it clear that there is #MoreToScience (what a lovely hashtag!) than the lab. In December, when I started this blog series, I promised you that I would introduce you to more career options after a science degree, in addition to science policy. I didn’t need to look far, only around my office, to find a bunch of science-educated people who found fulfilling careers outside the lab. They have kindly volunteered their time to tell you a little bit about themselves and the work they do.

In the future you will read about people working in education policy, marketing, training and public engagement. First story is about working in science writing (it is as cool as it sounds!).

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SONY DSCTom Ireland, Science writer and Editor of The Biologist magazine

I chose to pursue a career in biology because… as a child I was obsessed with finding…

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Talking about making informed decisions…

Second post for the @GlamSci series, this time about evidence and making informed decisions.

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15723503_10154718354972040_117433556554005873_o.jpg I admit, I’m a sucker for a good motivational quote. Especially in January. Image from @visual.dialogue

If there are only a couple of things you’ll remember from my blog series, I want one of them to be that just because you studied science, it doesn’t mean you have to work in a lab. Second, it’s okay to change your mind about what you want to study/work in as time goes (unless you want to go into medicine that needs a bit more planning and commitment). Very few decisions made at the age of 18 are wise or well-informed (I can say that because I’ve been there). We pick a course because it is vaguely in the direction of our interest, or what we think our interest is. I thought I’d be a biomedical scientist  and I ‘decided’ that without having even been in a lab! Having said that, some of…

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Science policy: the whys and hows of science and research

My first blog post for GlamSci series.

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gabi_portrait_900x1200-websiteWhy do some countries allow genetically modified food and others don’t? Who decides how much money the country spends on scientific research? Why are the ethnic minorities, women and LGBT communities underrepresented in science? Human population is increasing and so is the challenge of food security: what can we do about it? How can the countries around the world work together to tackle antimicrobial resistance or climate change? Three-parent babies: is this ethically appropriate and if so, when? How do we communicate sensitive topics, such as genome editing, to the general public? This is just a tiny fraction of what topics science policy includes.

I’m sure you would have heard about most of them but simply didn’t know that it was called science policy. A great deal of it involves dealing with and influencing the Government and the Members of Parliament. But that certainly isn’t my daily bread and…

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Science and engineering in 30 years: where will we be?

Biochemical Society

By Gabriele Butkute, Science Policy Officer at the Biochemical Society and the Royal Society of Biology

case30-2What world do we want to live in in 30 years time? What values do we want the society to live by? How will science and engineering affect our life going forward and what is the role that they should play? These are among the questions that were asked during the Campaign for Science and Engineering (CaSE) 30th anniversary celebrations on Monday 14th November.  The event looked ahead at the role of science and engineering over the next 30 years and discussed what we can do now to make the future that we want a reality.

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Diversity in Science: creating an inclusive environment

This post was originally published on the Royal Society of Biology’s blog, on 15 November 2016.

The Royal Society’s Annual Diversity Conference, ‘Diversity Matters – the road to inclusivity’ provided an uplifting environment to learn about initiatives in a range of workplaces. Meeting representatives from across the science sector, including from education and government, who are dedicated to improving diversity, was a hugely motivational and informative experience.

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Photo: Royal Society

Andrew Parker, director general of MI5, gave an enlightening keynote explaining how diversity is essential to UK security as, ‘the richest mix of people equals the best talent.’ MI5 received the top position in Stonewall’s top 100 employers’ list earlier this year, for good practice in its support for LGBT employees. Continue reading

Insights into animal research

Biochemical Society

By Gabriele Butkute, Science Policy Assistant at the Biochemical Society and the Royal Society of Biology

Animal research has led to the development of asthma inhalers, anaesthetics, vaccines and antibiotics. I’d be surprised if there was a person who hasn’t benefited from at least

UAR 5Image: Understanding Animal Research

one of the above. Yet, there are many people who oppose animal research and still associate it with testing cosmetics, which has been illegal in the UK and EU since 1998 and 2013 respectively. A recent survey by UAR has showed that only 38% were aware of this.

As a signatory of the Concordat on Openness on Animal Research, the Biochemical Society was recently offered a visit to the King’s College London animal research facility which was kindly organised by Understanding Animal Research. King’s College London was awarded the Openness Award due to its outstanding achievements in raising awareness of…

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Dementia & ageing matter: a case for volunteering

I’ve been volunteering with Alzheimer’s Society running activities for people with dementia for almost 9 months now. It has been one of the most humbling and heart-warming experiences. Even though nobody in my immediate family has dementia, volunteering has partially restored the connection with the older generations that I had missed since moving away from home several years ago.

After my second volunteering session, one of the ladies came to me and said: “thanks for all the laughter”. That’s when I knew I’d be coming back.

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Image: PHE

Continue reading