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PFGS Regional Event Sheffield : Report

28 March 2012

On 2nd March 2012, PhD students from the University of Sheffield Law School held a Postgraduate Forum on Genetics and Society regional meeting entitled ‘Governance and Intellectual Property of Biotechnology: Developed and Developing Countries Perspectives’. The meeting brought together postgraduate students from a number of northern universities who, while working in related disciplines, come from a wide range of both personal and professional backgrounds. In addition, our speakers were at different stages of their research with some in their first year, still forming their ideas and others in their final year and presenting their results. This mix allowed for some really interesting discussions and I am sure I am not the only one who took away many useful comments for my own research and improved my broader understanding and awareness of related issues.

The day started with a welcome address by Professor Aurora Plomer (director of the Sheffield Institute of Biotechnological Law and Ethics) who reminded us to make the most of the opportunity to gain from each other’s experiences and expertise and to provide invaluable feedback to one another. By the end of the day I was confident that everyone had benefited a lot from the meeting by utilising the advice given at the start. The talks ranged from governing Biobanking in the UK to Biobanking in Latin America; morality in patent law to the use of patent information by scientists; the ‘Just’ use of genetic data by insurers to the regulation of biosafety regimes in Africa and enhancing food security in Zambia to the relationship between biodiversity rich countries and the pharmaceutical industry – a colourful range of topics indeed! Although the programme provided a long day of talks and several well deserved refreshment breaks, by the end many of us hadn’t had enough: the discussions carried on in more informal surroundings (/pub) for many hours. In fact, some of the conversations I started that day have carried on till now and who knows – perhaps the meeting will lead to future collaborations.

I am very grateful for the opportunity to organise an event which (hopefully) provided a chance for postgraduates to present to and benefit from like-minded people. In our field, meetings like this represent very rare opportunities to present in a friendly, supportive environment to people with similar academic interests.  After organising, attending and presenting at this meeting I will certainly keep an eye out for future PFGS events to attend. The meeting was only possible with the support of the PFGS and their generous funders, the Genomics Forum – thank you very much!

Anna Hescott

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