Public dialogue with society
How citizens and stakeholders informed the CRG Research Strategy
The CRG has traditionally conducted innovative fundamental research, generating new knowledge on genomics, gene regulation and cell biology. Many of these discoveries are crucial for scientific advancement, though it may take years for them to result in practical applications for society at large.
At the same time, the field of biomedical research is experiencing profound changes, transforming from a descriptive discipline into one that is quantifiable thanks to advances in AI and genomics, helping researchers make predictions about human health and disease that were not possible a few years ago and raising new ethical debates.
Infographic summarising the CRG Public Dialogue experiment
In order to understand the public’s priorities for continuing to carry out fundamental research while simultaneously pursuing applications in genomics and molecular biology for human health, and the ethics and funding of these, the CRG commissioned global leading market research company Ipsos to conduct a public dialogue with people across Spain. A public dialogue is a process during which members of the public interact with researchers, stakeholders (for example, research funders, businesses and policymakers) to deliberate on issues relevant to future policy decisions.
The public dialogue included 31 members of civil society at large, reflecting the Spanish population and taking into account their age, gender and backgrounds. It also invited 22 people with a professional relationship with the CRG, including funders, bioethicists, clinicians, journalists and entrepreneurs. Finally, 15 scientists at the CRG took part. The groups deliberated on various research projects that are actively taking place at the CRG over three separate online sessions.
The findings of the exercise, one of the first of to be carried out by a research centre in Spain, has contributed to the development of the CRG’s present and future strategic research lines.
The main findings of the report are:
- The report finds strong support for basic science in Spain, with the Covid-19 pandemic having shown the importance of profound knowledge bases to monitor infections or develop vaccines at short notice
- A lack of funding was the primary concern, with the public broadly supportive of increased public funding for research. Though the public supported collaborations with private companies, they felt the profits from patents and enterprise should be reinvested back into science
- The public wants more internal debate among the scientific community and to create guidelines that go beyond the current regulations on ethics