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A week in Westminster

Published: Tue 25 Nov 2014

Dr Lijun Shang from the University of Bradford is swapping a lab coat for legislation, when he visits senior civil servant Dr Marcus Main at the House of Commons for a Week in Westminster from Monday 24 November as part of a unique pairing scheme run by the Royal Society, the UK's national academy of science.

During his visit Dr Shang, international lecturer in medical sciences from the University’s Faculty of Life Sciences, will shadow Dr Main, Senior Organic Chemist at the Defence, Science and Technology Laboratory, and learn about his work.

As well as attending seminars and panel discussions, while in Westminster Dr Shang will also attend Question Time in the House of Lords, a mock Science and Technology Select Committee and meet with local MP Philip Davies. The visit will provide Dr Shang with a behind-the-scenes insight into how science policy is formed as well as an understanding of the working life of a civil servant.

Dr Main will pay a mutual visit to the University of Bradford to see Dr Shang’s laboratory facilities and meet with Vice-Chancellor Professor Brian Cantor, Dean of the Faculty of Life Sciences Professor Richard Greene and other members of staff.

Dr Shang said: “I am looking forward to being part of this scheme because I want to be involved in effective communication between politicians and scientists and contribute to the educational and international collaborations in the Bradford area. It is becoming ever more pressing that policy-makers ensure that society understands and enjoys the benefits from progress in sciences nationally and globally.”

The Royal Society’s Pairing Scheme aims to build bridges between parliamentarians and some of the best scientists in the UK. It is an opportunity for parliamentarians and civil servants to become better informed about science issues and for scientists to understand how they can influence science policy. More than 300 pairs of scientists, parliamentarians and civil servants have been partnered up since the scheme was launched in 2001.

Sir Paul Nurse, President of the Royal Society, said:

“We live in a world facing increasing challenges that can only be addressed with a clear understanding of science. From climate change to outbreaks of infectious diseases, GM organisms to technology and security, our policy makers have to make decisions about issues that will affect the lives of all those in the UK and, in many cases, the global community. This means policy-makers and scientists have a responsibility to engage with each other to get the best possible scientific advice into public policy making.

We set up the Royal Society’s Pairing Scheme in 2001 to provide the opportunity for MPs and scientists to build long term relationships with each other. We have now organised more than 300 pairings and have expanded the scheme to include partnerships between scientists and civil servants and members of the House of Lords.

Parliamentarians and scientists who have taken part in the scheme have gained from their experiences and the shaping of public policy can only improve over time as these relationships continue to grow.”

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