Wellcome Trust Essay Competition

Essays of around 1,500 to 2,000 words should critically analyse the use of scientific evidence in the formulation and execution of public policies at municipal, regional, provincial or national levels of governments in the author’s countries of residence.The essays can address the general situation or show how scientific evidence is being used in policy making in specific sectors. A prize of €300 and a diploma will be awarded to the best 10 essays by a special jury appointed by INGSA-Africa. The workshop series is designed for policymakers and scientists living or working in North Eastern Africa to enhance capacities in embedding evidence in policymaking at all levels of government. What follows is my entry in its original form- I have been sent an edited version for approval which is going to be posted here soon (, along with the other shortlistees and the winner.

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Before the birth of Louise Brown, IVF treatment simply wasn’t something the general population had sufficient awareness of in order to enter reasoned debate.

Discussion and dispute came after the fact, along with reactive legislation like the 1990 Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act, which instituted regulations on work long after the practice had become widespread. Technologies and pharmaceuticals which augment our capabilities are already here, and we use them every day.

Some of them might never be answered, at least not to everyone’s satisfaction.

Look at embryonic stem cells- a field of research with wonderful therapeutic possibilities, but fraught with argument over morality, the right to life and what constitutes a human.

There is one important difference which sets human enhancements apart: it is not that these questions and fears are not warranted, but that we can address them in advance.

Prior to the resounding success of Dolly, cloning was largely science fiction in the public consciousness.See below for activities and opportunities organised by the INGSA-Africa Regional Chapter.For more information or to be kept up to date about the activities of INGSA-Africa, make sure you’re signed up the INGSA network (It’s free and easy – https:// INGSA Africa calls for the presentation of essays on the state of science advice to governments in African countries.If I alter my natural state, am I playing God, or subverting nature?In my effort to break the limits of humanity, might I lose my inherent dignity?Right now, I’m Superman, though I might avoid the tights.Admittedly, there’s a world of difference between my mildly increased alertness and such potential as exists in the field of biomedical enhancement.Leaving the hyperbole behind, biotechnologies are promising us abilities beyond those of mortal man.Prosthetics, developing at a rapid rate to serve the needs of military amputees, can in some cases now be grafted directly to a patient’s own nerves.In academia, there has been arcane discussion for decades over the ethics of using such technologies.Scientists and philosophers on both sides of the issue have sparred without resolution in the pages of journals, both praising the prospective benefits and admonishing us against the theorised risks to our health and humanity.


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