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Bioscience for Society Strategy Advisory Panel

BSS provides strategic input on the social dimensions of the conduct and outcomes of research supported by BBSRC.

In order to fulfil its responsibilities the Panel works closely with BBSRC's other Strategy Advisory Panels.

BSS is responsible for:

  • Reporting regularly to the BBSRC (Chief) Executive
  • Providing external and independent advice and guidance to BBSRC on matters raised either by BBSRC or by the Panel itself on areas within BSS's remit which include:
    • Guiding BBSRC's communications, public engagement and public dialogue programmes
    • Horizon scanning for issues of public salience and emerging topics relating to societal issues in the biosciences that BBSRC should be aware of or respond to
    • Assisting BBSRC in fulfilling its social responsibilities. This includes providing specific advice on a case by case basis when, for example, an ethical issue is raised in connection with a grant application or funding call but also high level advice about BBSRC's policies and processes for ensuring that it funds research in a socially responsible manner
    • High level oversight of appropriate opportunities and approaches for engaging with significant BBSRC stakeholders
    • Advising BBSRC on ensuring the organisational capacity for integration of the consideration of ethical and other social issues when planning policy and funding
    • Challenging BBSRC to explain its decisions and to account for how it deals with social and ethical issues.

Meeting dates and papers


Dr Erinma Ochu (Chair) - University of Salford

Erinma Ochu

Erinma is a researcher in the Ecosystems and Environment Research Centre at the University of Salford where she is programme lead on an MSc in Science Communication and Future Media. With fellowships from NESTA, The Wellcome Trust and The Jerwood Foundation/ Manchester International Festival, she has pioneered creative and transdisciplinary approaches to public participation and involvement in research to gain new cultural perspectives across the future of food and health and social care. Trained originally as a neuroscientist with a BSc and PhD from The University of Manchester, she went on to work in patient involvement and the medical communication of Parkinson’s Disease, Cancer, Schizophrenia and Depression. This refocussed Erinma’s career on cultural and social initiatives and ten years of developing partnerships with schools, museums, research institutions and NGOs, culminating in a role as Creative Director for The Manchester Beacon for Public Engagement.

Her current focus is on connecting diverse perspectives, to foster informal learning, at the intersection of social, artistic and environmental movements, with support from INIVA/ The Stuart Hall Foundation and as Co-I on UK-wide NERC pilot, OPENER.

She serves as scientific and cultural advisor to The Centre for Healthy Aging (Copenhagen), Do It Together Science (EU), Invisible Dust (UK), The Museum of Science and Industry (Manchester), Sheffield International Documentary Festival and The National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement.

In 2015 she was awarded an MBE for Services to Public Engagement with science, technology and engineering.

Dr Jane Calvert - The University of Edinburgh

Jane Calvert

Jane Calvert is a social scientist based in Science, Technology and Innovation Studies at The University of Edinburgh. She did her doctoral work at the Science Policy Research Unit at the University of Sussex and was a postdoctoral researcher at the ESRC Centre for Genomics and Society at the University of Exeter. Her current research, funded by a European Research Council Consolidator grant, focuses on attempts to engineer living things in the field of synthetic biology. She is also interested the governance of emerging technologies and interdisciplinary collaborations of all sorts. She was a member of the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Working Party on Synthetic Biology, the UK Synthetic Biology Roadmap Coordination Group, and the Nuffield Council on Bioethics Working Party on Emerging Biotechnologies. She is a co-author of the interdisciplinary book Synthetic Aesthetics: Investigating Synthetic Biology’s Designs on Nature, published by MIT Press in 2014.

Dr Lawrence McGinty - Independent

Lawrence McGinty

Lawrence McGinty has done some unusual things: flown a Harrier jump jet; reported from the North Pole; appeared at the London Palladium in black tie driving a Sinclair; and stroked a polar bear.

For four decades Lawrence has reported every major development in science and health. Between 1962 and 1982 he worked for New Scientist, writing about technology, risk and finally becoming news editor. In 1982 he joined the pioneering team that started Channel 4 News. In 1986 he joined ITV as Health and Science Editor. In 2015 he retired and he was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Royal Television Society.

In 2014 he won the Lifetime Achievement award of the Association of British Science Writers. The citation said he had "a profound effect on the scientific community". No other reporter has won both these awards.

In previous years, he has won awards from BAFTA, the RTS, the ABSW, the Medical Journalists Association and an Emmy as one of the team covering the floods in Mozambique in 2000. In 2012, he was awarded an honorary doctorate by University of Liverpool. He has been an advisor to the International Atomic Energy Agency and chaired an international conference on drugs for the World Health Organisation.

Lawrence is currently Chair of the Medical Journalists Association, a member of BBSRC Bioscience for Society Strategy Panel, a member of the Advisory Board of the Science Media Centre. Provides Media Training for a variety of companies, universities and public bodies.

Mr Patrick Mulvany - Food Ethics Council

Patrick Mulvany is an agriculturalist. His work focuses on policy and practice to realise food sovereignty, enhance agricultural biodiversity and the related issues of the governance of food, environment and technology. He is currently: a member of the Food Ethics Council; an Honorary Research Fellow at the Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience (CAWR) of University of Coventry; and an adviser to the Agricultural Biodiversity working group of the International Planning Committee for Food Sovereignty (IPC).

He was formerly: the senior policy adviser to Practical Action/ITDG; a former Chair of the UK Food Group (UKFG); a Trustee of Sustain, Oxfam, Action Aid and CIIR/Progressio; an NGO member of the governing bureau of the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD); and a member of FAO's Technical Advisory Group for the State of the World's Biodiversity for Food and Agriculture.

Patrick has been an adviser to many NGOs and has evaluated several international organisations including GRAIN, Friends of the Earth International, Via Campesina, the SADC Seed Security Network, the Civil Society Mechanism of the UN Committee on World Food Security (CSM/CFS) and the Central Asia agricultural biodiversity programme of the Global Environment Facility (GEF). He has been an active participant in the civil society lobbies on agricultural biodiversity at the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN (FAO) and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) as well as in the international, regional and national food sovereignty networks.

Dr Patrick Sinnett-Smith - Independent

Patrick Sinnett-Smith

Patrick has over 35 years’ experience in research and the laboratory animal sector. He originally trained as a biochemist, completed a PhD and postdoctoral work at The University of Nottingham before moving to The Roslin Institute to lead a team looking at the genetic control of growth.

Patrick moved to Pfizer in 1991 where he was responsible for regulatory aspects of laboratory animal work, including licensing, licensee training, Good Laboratory Practice and AAALAC accreditation. In 2011 Patrick took responsibility for regulatory policy across Europe to include oversight of external studies and representing Pfizer externally at ABPI (NABDEN co-chair and ARWEN chair), the European Partnership for Alternative Approaches to Animal Testing (co-chair), the UK Bioscience Coalition (co-chair), EFPIA Research Animal Welfare group. He also worked on a number of EU expert working groups.

Since retiring from Pfizer in 2017 Patrick has remained his interest in regulation of animal studies and, in particular ethical review of animal work. He stays engaged through his work with LASA, various consulting projects with facility management and pharmaceutical companies and chairs an AWERB in the Cambridge area. He also Chairs the British Pharmacological Society workstream “Supporting in vivo skills” looking at ways to ensure UK bioscience continues to develop and have access to highly skilled in vivo scientists.

Patrick has been a council member of UAR and LASA and is a trustee of the Biomedical Research Education Trust. He remains on the LASA ETES group producing widely used guidance documents, sits on the BBSRC Bioscience for Society Strategy Advisory Panel and is an AAALAC ad hoc visitor.

Professor Sarah Wolfensohn - University of Surrey

Sarah Wolfensohn

Sarah is Professor of Animal Welfare at the University of Surrey’s School of Veterinary Medicine. She graduated from Cambridge in 1981 and is a partner in general practice where she worked for several years, also taking on the role of named veterinary surgeon for various small pharmaceutical and biotech companies in the local area. She was head of the Veterinary Services Department at the University of Oxford from 1991 until 2010 and then set up a consultancy providing advice on animal health and welfare to clients from the pharmaceutical industry, academia, animal welfare organisations, and funding agencies and governments; both in the UK and overseas.

She is involved in the ethical review of projects relating to animal use, and is a Veterinary Non-Executive Director of the Veterinary Defence Society. She is an RCVS Recognised Specialist in Laboratory Animal Science, holds the Diploma from the European College of Laboratory Animal Medicine, the Diploma from the European College of Animal Welfare and Behaviour Medicine (Welfare Science, Ethics and Law) and is a Fellow of the Society of Biology. She was awarded an OBE for services to animal welfare in 2012.

Meeting dates and papers

Minutes and agendas for the last three years can be found below. If you have any queries regarding minutes and/or agendas, please contact us using the details at the bottom of this page.