20 years on since Dolly – how do we feel about the ethics of cloning now?

Today marks 20 years since Dolly the Sheep was unveiled to the world by British scientists, at BBSRC’s Roslin Institute – which this month welcomed the appointment of a new director. Here ESRC-funded academic Sarah Franklin, who authored the book Dolly Mixtures, looks at where we currently stand on the ethics surrounding cloning.

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A designer sheep

On 22 February 1997 the world woke up to a new phenomenon: a cloned Scottish sheep named Dolly. She became a global superstar: famous because she was a completely normal sheep. Dolly embodied a famously misunderstood scientific technique, namely cloning. Continue reading

Genetics, technology, security and justice: the social life of DNA

matthias-wienroth-150Dr Matthias Wienroth is researcher and knowledge broker at the interface of the sociology of science and technology, public and policy engagement, ethics, and governance studies. He is part of the FP7 European Forensic Genetics (EUROFORGEN) Network of Excellence and Research Fellow at Northumbria University; he is also Visiting Researcher at the Policy, Ethics and Life Sciences (PEALS) Research Centre, Newcastle University.

Here, in the latest of our biosocial blog series, he discusses the role of DNA and the research discussed in the ESRC-funded seminar series ‘Genetics, technology, security and justice: Crossing, contesting and comparing boundaries’

DNA evidence is often portrayed as vital to criminal investigations and trials. Just over 30 years ago, in 1984, Alec Jeffreys and his team at Leicester University discovered DNA profiling. In its first application it helped to exonerate one suspect and then build the case for the conviction of another. Today, DNA analysis is often perceived to be the ‘gold standard’ for evidence. Continue reading

The AB(B)CDE of biosocial research

In the third of our series of blogs on biosocial research, Professor John Hobcraft – who for several years has been a Strategic Advisor to the ESRC on data resources in the longitudinal and biosocial domains – writes about how our behaviours and experiences alter our biology and our biology plays a part in shaping our behaviours

 John Hobcraft

Can we understand choices and behaviours without combining neuroscience and social science? Can we understand employment and social relationships without attention to mental and physical health, and the underlying biological pathways?  Continue reading

Nature vs nurture: how the ‘social’ in biosocial studies has shifted the debate

Rebecca Fairbairn is ESRC’s new Head of Longitudinal Studies. She was Head of Knowledge Exchange until summer 2015 when she took up a short-term role to look strategically across ESRC’s biosocial activity.

Rebecca Fairbairn

“Biosocial? Is that even a thing?” was what ran through my mind when I was approached to undertake a piece of work looking across ESRC’s biosocial engagement. The more I learned, however, the more interested I became in this exciting area – and I’m now completely hooked!

Continue reading