A University of St Andrews scientist was job-shadowed by a local MP today (Tuesday 21 February 2006).
John MacDougall, Labour MP for Glenrothes, donned a labcoat before taking part in a high-tech chemistry experiment and learning how chemistry can drive research discoveries in parasitology. Mr MacDougall and Dr Nick Westwood were taking part in the Royal Society’s MP-Scientists Pairing Scheme which involved Dr Westwood spending four days with Mr MacDougall at Westminster.
A Royal Society University Research Fellow in the School of Chemistry, Dr Westwood was one of 25 scientists to secure a place on the scheme, aimed at improving understanding and communication between politicians and scientists. While in London, he attended a number of Lords and Commons Science and Technology Committee meetings as well as talks by Office of Science and Technology and the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee. There was also time to sit in on the Scottish Affairs Committee which was discussing the potential impact of the 2012 London Olympics on Scotland.
Dr Westwood said, “I had recently been involved in preparing a policy document with the Royal Society on personalised medicines and their knock-on effect for the pharmaceutical industry and the NHS. I, like many of my peers I imagine, had no idea how policy documents of this sort were used and was keen to see the other end of the process. I have to say that I learnt a lot. Hopefully Mr MacDougall benefited from hearing and seeing what we do here in the School of Chemistry and Centre for Biomolecular Sciences”.
Mr MacDougall added, “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed hearing what the researchers do here in the School of Chemistry and Centre for Biomolecular Sciences. These scientists are working right at the cutting edge of research and their discoveries will lead to improvements in understanding disease which, in turn, could be developed into new treatments for cancer. It’s a real inspiration. I’ll definitely be recommending the MP-Scientists Pairing Scheme to my fellow MPs.”
Dr Westwood, and his colleague Dr Stuart Conway, have recently been part of a consortium bid awarded half of the first ever EaStChem grant. Sharing £1.1 million with the University of Edinburgh, the Cancer Research UK grant will fund a PhD training centre in Cancer Medicinal Chemistry, aimed at helping to train the next generation of cancer researchers in Scotland. EaStChem, launched in 2005, combines St Andrews’ and Edinburgh’s chemistry research ‘communities’ and will enhance Scotland’s leading position in one of science’s core subjects. EaStChem will focus on a wide-ranging research portfolio including chemistry for health, green chemistry, nanochemistry and the synthesis of new molecules.
NOTE TO EDITORS
You are invited to the Centre for Biomolecular Sciences, North Haugh, St Andrews at 12.15pm on Tuesday 21 February 2006. Please report to reception and ask for Margaret Wilson/Claire Grainger.
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