Dr Helen Bodmer
Head, MRC and Health Research Team, Research Funding Unit, Department for Business Innovation & Skills
Policy Fellow of the Centre for Science and Policy
Helen’s role as Head of the MRC and Health Research Team includes being the Departmental lead for policy on academic medical research and matters relating to the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the Office for Strategic Coordination of Health Research with high level strategic overview of publicly funded medical research in the UK. She also has responsibility for sponsorship and performance management of the MRC.
She works closely with colleagues in her unit which covers all areas of scientific research as well as with the Office for Life Sciences in BIS and other Government Departments, especially the Department of Health and the Home Office. In addition to this she is the UK Delegate for the IDEAS programme (FP7) for the European Research Council.
Helen’s background is as an immunologist and rheumatologist and prior to her current post she spent four and a half years as an Inspector in the Home Office Animals (Scientific Procedures) Inspectorate.
In her Policy Fellowship. as well as meeting senior figures in the School of Clinical Medicine and health-related disciplines, Helen is also keen to meet senior researchers in the social and physical sciences and in engineering whose research can throw light on questions about the wider context of medical research, including public perception and the challenges of cross-disciplinary work.
Her research questions are as follows:
- What does social science research have to say about the public appetite for, and understanding of, medical advances and the associated potential risks and benefits?
- How might it be possible to improve public understanding of risk, and to better manage expectations, regarding medical research?
- What case studies (from both medical and non-medical fields, including the physical sciences and engineering) throw light on the relationship between basic research, applied research, translational research and impact outside the academic sphere?
- What challenges can such case studies provide to the widely held perception of a simple linear model for how basic research translates into “products” or other impacts? What other models can be proposed to describe the relationships between research and economic, social and policy impacts?
- What tools and techniques are effective in crossing over the cultural differences between the physical sciences and engineering and other research domains? How can the barriers between the domains (including differences in language and culture) be understood and overcome?
- How best can cross-disciplinarity in research be encouraged and facilitated?