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The German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina sets up new standing committees

Fri, 03/25/2011 - 8:40am
EurekAlert

The German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina has set up seven new standing committees in order to be able to work more intensively on topics of the future. The task of these groups is to follow scientific discussion in their respective fields, investigate and discuss important future topics and to initiate activities in the area of policy advice. The results of this could be short-term statements on acute issues or middle or long term statements on future topics for which larger, interdisciplinary workgroups are employed. The new committees deal with "Health", "Ageing and Fertility", "Structure of the research system", "Acceptance of new technologies", "Life Sciences", "Climate, Energy and the Environment" and "Science and Ethics".

The President of the Leopoldina, Jörg Hacker, is pleased with the developments of the German National Academy of Sciences after his first year in office. "The Leopoldina contributes actively and independently to political decision-making processes. Recommendations, such as the Statement on preimplantation genetic diagnosis issued at the beginning of the year, demonstrate how socially-relevant topics are able to be taken up, studied in an interdisciplinary manner and introduced into public discussion," explains Hacker. The Leopoldina has established the seven new standing committees in which high-ranking scientists study socially-relevant topics for the future in order to strengthen the Academy's position in giving advice to society and policy makers

Last year the Leopoldina issued three statements. The drafting of these statements was led by the Leopoldina and done in collaboration with other academies. The statement published in January 2011 on preimplantation genetic diagnosis recommended allowing this diagnosis procedure in Germany under tight restrictions. This would allow families at high risk of having a child with a severe hereditary disease to have a child that is not affected by this disease. The statement issued in October 2010 on "predictive genetic diagnostics" expressed recommendations for dealing with a still-young, seminal branch of medicine: genetic testing on healthy people to prevent diseases. In light of the amendment to the EU directive on animal testing, the Leopoldina furthermore provided a differentiated balancing of interests between animal protection and the needs of health research. Recently, a new workgroup entitled "Personalised Medicine" was established to study the challenges faced by the forms of diagnosis and therapy that will be more tailored to the patient in the future.

"The voice of science and the clustered expertise of the excellent researchers gathered at the Leopoldina are more and more in demand. Our recommendations on many other topics are being eagerly awaited. Thus, it is not difficult to continue along the path set out by my predecessor Prof. Volker ter Meulen," says Leopoldina President Jörg Hacker.

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