Today’s policy makers face an ever-greater need to harness science and technology to address complex policy challenges. It is vital that scientific leaders have enough knowledge of politics and policy to help contribute the best scientific advice to government. Metabolic and cardiovascular science encompass important areas of interest to policy-makers, including obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular health, regenerative medicine and health impacts of the environment – topics of great significance in terms of securing the future health of the nation.
The aim of this workshop, held in November 2020, was to inspire Early Career Researchers including PhD students and post-docs, to engage with policy makers and to help them start to develop the knowledge and skills needed to support evidence-informed policy making.
The programme was developed jointly by the Centre for Science and Policy (CSaP), the Cambridge Metabolic Network and Cardiovascular IRC. Academic experts and policy professionals discussed their own experiences of gathering and presenting advice and evidence for policy – describing how the process works, the types of policy issues that require evidence, and examples of what has and hasn’t worked well. The faculty included Nicola Buckley from CSaP, Professors Martin White and Nick Wareham from MRC-Epidemiology, Dr Tom Livermore from the Academy of Medical Sciences and Dame Sally Davies, former Chief Medical Officer.
Two interactive group sessions provided attendees with an opportunity to work on a policy-related question and to come up with recommendations which they presented to an expert panel.
The workshop was attended by 20 participants from the IMS-MRL, Cardiovascular IRC, MRC-Epidemiology, Department of Engineering, Department of Public Health and Primary Care, Papworth Hospital and industry. Those who attended gained a greater understanding of the opportunities and challenges of linking evidence to policy making, the important impact of their research in influencing policy, received useful guidance on how best to communicate their research findings to policy makers (such as government, NICE etc) and have new insight should they be considering a change of career direction.
In addition to gaining new knowledge and skills, we hope they will now grow in confidence to approach or work with policy-makers in future.