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Ethics and access of using Human Tissue in Research

7 September 11

Over a century after the first successful implant operation in a human eye in 1905, University of Bradford researchers will explore with audiences at the British Science Festival the ethical and practical implications of human tissue donation for research in the 21st century.

The historic Alder Hey scandal revealed that human tissue, controversially including children's organs, was removed, retained and disposed without authorisation between 1998 and 1995 in several NHS hospital. The subsequent inquiry led directly to the institution of the Human Tissue Act in 2004, putting in place for the first time the Human Tissue Authority as the sole body charged with oversight of organ donation and tissue research in the UK.

Since the Act came into force in 2006 the numbers of those agreeing to donate their organs has increased, with 16.5 million people now as registered organ donors. Yet despite the growing public acceptance of organ donation to save lives, there are still qualms expressed by some for its use in research.  Dr Kevin Adams is a co-founder of Ethical Tissue and part of the Ethical Tissue management team, and will act as Panel Chair for the debate. Kevin said: "Researchers see human tissue as a hugely valuable resource but we aren't always good at explaining why to the general public”

The panel at the event will bring their wide and varied expertise in the fields of both research and the ethical provision of human tissue samples, exploring the implications arising from their field of work. The audience will hear from Dr Susan Boyce, the Head of ‘Ethical Tissue', a unique tissue bank based at the University of Bradford that works with NHS hospitals in West Yorkshire, Mr Neil Formstone, a former cancer patient, trainer and coordinator for Macmillan care and patient advocate, and Mr Shiraz Butt, a member of the Professional Muslim Institute.

Attendees will be encouraged to explore the complexities of balancing individual and patient rights, research needs and religious and cultural considerations in context of organ and tissue donation, in what promises to be a thought-provoking event.

Dr Adams said: "This is a great opportunity for the University and the community of Bradford to collectively play a role in determining the future of healthcare research in the UK. This panel debate will take place on Monday 12th September between 10.00am and 12.00pm.”

The members of the panel will be as follows:

Dr Kevin Adams (Panel Chair):
Is the Associate Dean for Employer Engagement at the University of Bradford, a founder of Ethical Tissue along with Prof. Patterson and part of the Ethical Tissue management team.  

Dr Margaret Clotworthy:
Is a director & co-founder of Human Focused Testing, Director at the Institute for Science Communication and Chair of the Human Tissues Group.  

Dr Susan Boyce:
Is the Head of Ethical Tissue, which sources and supplies a wide range of human tissues to researchers.

Professor Laurence Patterson:
Is the Director of the Institute of Cancer Therapeutics, based at the University of Bradford and founder and director of Biostatus, which develops and markets products for diagnostics and cell based drug screening.

Mr Neil Formstone:
As a former cancer patient Neil has developed a passionate belief that lay people can play a vital role in all aspects of healthcare, acting as a Trainer and Co-researcher for Macmillan and a patient advocate.

Mr Shiraz Butt:
Mr Butt is a member of the ACCA and a qualified accountant and financial auditor. He is also a member of the Professional Muslim Institute and regularly involved in their events and work.  Mr Butt has a keen interest in contemporary Islamic issues including the topics being debated.

7 September 11

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Further information for Media Enquirers

For further information please contact the University of Bradford Press Office on 01274 23 3089/3084.

Out of office hours call 07879 437996. Alternatively, e-mail or fax on (01274) 236280.