Dr Mark Bale: Case study

at Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC)

CSaP Policy Fellow 2014 - 2016
Deputy Head of Health Science and Bioethics, Department of Health

24 May 2016

The connections made during my Policy Fellowship, and a Policy Workshop held in partnership with the Centre for Law, Medicine and Life Sciences (LML) at Cambridge, helped us deliver a huge new government priority on genomics.

I am involved in delivering the ‘100,000 Genomes Project’ which is a scheme that aims to sequence 100,000 whole genomes from NHS patients. It intends to do many things for many people – deliver benefits to patients, allow access to researchers, and provide opportunities for industry partners – whilst maintaining public trust and confidence.

The CSaP Policy Fellowship enabled me to reacquaint myself with Dr Kathy Liddell – who this year set up a new centre at Cambridge focusing on the legal and ethical challenges at the forefront of medicine and the life sciences – and make several new connections including with Dr Hilary Burton at the Public Health Genomics (PHG) Foundation. These connections led to a Policy Workshop which set out to identify and influence key issues in IP affecting the development of genomic medicine.

The Policy Workshop was immensely useful in helping us to focus on issues of IP ownership, privacy and confidentiality while at the same time think about how to incentivise industry to support the Project.

The workshop achieved what we’re increasingly calling ‘open policy making’. It’s a good example of how you can take a problem, bring together the various actors and come up with a plan that works for everyone. A report of the workshop has since been published and has contributed to the policy approach that Genomics England is adopting. The next step will be to work with researchers to identify the questions that need to be answered and see whether they fit with our policy needs.

Through the CSaP Fellowship I was invited to become a City Fellow of Hughes Hall, which naturally leads into a lot of the work going on in and around Cambridge, and increasingly into the work that Genomics England is doing. The Fellowship has helped in my own professional development giving me the confidence to act as an expert in a personal capacity, rather than as a cog in a machine, and enabling me to build on the connections I have made to engage others.

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