Select Committee on Science and Technology Written Evidence

Supplementary evidence by the British Society for Research on Ageing, the British Geriatrics Society and the British Society of Gerontology[1]


  The three learned societies representing professionals working in the field of gerontology (the BSRA, BSG and BGS) were all asked to give evidence to the House of Lords inquiry in to Scientific Aspects of Ageing on 12 October 2004. One of the questions raised by the select committee related to the links that existed between the three societies and other complementary organisations overseas. The accurate response was that links to international organisations were good, all three societies are members of the International Association of Gerontological and Geriatrics Societies (IAG) and the BSRA recently forged links with the American Association for Ageing Research, but there were no links currently between the three UK organisations. A consortium of representatives of the three societies (the BCCG) had existed in the recent past, but had ceased to meet essentially because it did not appear to have a useful aim or focus. As a result of the three chairs of the learned societies meeting at the House of Lords, it was agreed that a discussion should take place to identify points of common interest for the three societies, the form that any future collaboration should take and what were the possible benefits of any future joint activities for gerontological research in the UK. Subsequently a meeting was held by the chairs of the BSRA (Professor Janet Lord), BSG (Professor Chris Phillipson) and BGS (Professor Peter Crome) at Keele University on 15 March 2005.


  All three chairs were keen to promote links between the three learned societies, but all agreed that these had to be useful and should help to meet the aims of each of their societies. Several potential future points of interaction emerged from the meeting:

    —  The three societies would collaborate to promote interdisciplinary training in gerontology, helping to meet the current gap in researchers able to work at the interface of social science, medical science and basic science in the field of ageing. In the short term this might be realised by an application to the joint research council funding initiative New Dynamics of Ageing for a PhD training network.

    —  Formation of a forum of the three societies (provisional name the Association of Gerontological Societies—AGES), that could act as a point of contact for policy makers influencing social, health and scientific research issues relating to old age in the UK and Europe. The forum would be publicised via links on the web sites of each of the societies and the secretariat for the forum would be based at the offices of the BGS.

    —  Communication between the societies to be improved, including cross-posting of society meetings and funding opportunities (especially those involving interdisciplinary projects) on each others web sites, creation of links directly to the other two societies web pages and an annual meeting of the chairs of the three societies.

    —  Setting up of a small workshop to improve the impact of the learned societies upon policy making in the UK. This meeting would not only discuss the current level of influence of the learned societies upon health, social and research strategies relating to ageing and the elderly, but will aim to identify which strategic issues each society feels need to be influenced by them in the coming years and what direction that policy should take. This meeting would include two to three members from each society together with representatives of Age concern and Help the Aged. The meeting will also create the programme for an interdisciplinary conference to review Gerontological Research in the UK and produce a Strategy Document to be made available to funding agencies, politicians and other interested parties. An application will be made to the SPARC initiative for the funding of the conference and the three learned societies will jointly fund the initial workshop to be held at Birmingham University in July 2005.

April 2005

1   Supplementary to minutes of evidence 12th October 2004. Back

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