Select Committee on Science and Technology Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Letter to the Committee Specialist from Professor Peter Lansley, University of Reading


  Unfortunately I did not get an opportunity to speak with you on Monday following the POST meeting on Ageing, so I hope you will not mind this short note.

  Although I have written to the Committee of Inquiry drawing on my experiences as chair of the EPSRC EQUAL panel, an issue which I did not cover was one which was raised late on Monday afternoon. This concerned the closing of ranks by the science community against ageing research.

  Regrettably this problem is rife, not just in the European Commission about which the comment at the Meeting was made, but also within the UK.

  The particular point which I should like to make is that, whilst presently the EPSRC EQUAL initiative is going quite well, that is because it is confined to a small number of areas of research (Built Environment, Design for All, Rehabilitation) and the initiative is contained within one division of EPSRC. When the present initiative comes to an end and ageing related research proposals are then spread across a number of divisions it is more than likely that they will be not given a fair hearing but will be squeezed out by the concerns and norms of traditional science.

  So the review body may wish to address the following issue. This is, even if current Research Council initiatives are going well, what plans do the Research Councils have for ensuring that there will be an adequate change of culture so that ageing research continues to be encouraged across the board without the protection of special initiatives.

  Naturally I would be very pleased to discuss this issue with you in more detail should that be desirable.

3 February 2000

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