Ten Church of England vicars paid a visit to the William Harvey Research Institute this week to experience clinical and genomic research at first hand. These visits form part of a national initiative to help scientists and faith leaders engage in dialogue and enhance understanding of ethical issues in medicine.
The Reverend Professor Nick Goulding, Professor of Pharmacology & Medical Education at Queen Mary University of London who instigated the visits commented, “It is vital that research scientists and clinicians understand the wider context and impact of their work. This is especially important with regard to the ethical implications of some of the technological advances that are constantly being made in medicine. Interaction with faith leaders can hone scientists understanding of ethical principles in health and healing; interaction and discussion with scientists can positively impact on a theological understanding of faith in God and his activities in the world."
Highlights of the visits included tours of the Barts Heart Hospital, WHRI Clinical Trials Unit, the Genome Centre and Genomics England.
The experience was very well received by the visiting clergy. One minister responded,"We had a fascinating and worthwhile day. We learned a lot about the basics of genomic discoveries and research. We also began some of the ethical discussions which revolve around genomics and even wider issues of ‘science and religion or faith’.
The genomics visit was covered by the BBC Radio 4 Sunday Programme and was broadcast on Sunday 5th February 2017.