Blood, sweat, and tears

Speaker: Dr Emma King # University of Edinburgh

18th Nov 2013

15:30 - 17:00

Conference Room, David Hume Tower


This paper is a culmination of four years’ work with the Scottish Blood Transfusion Service and various other partners around the UK and Ireland. Together these researchers make up what is known as the ‘BloodPharma’ team, a scientific project seeking to grow red blood cells in the laboratory for the purposes of transfusion. Here I shall concentrate on one small aspect of the findings from this study, namely the involvement of the scientific team in public outreach and particularly the unique challenges faced by early engagement in this project.

The presence of the already established donation system in the UK acts as a double-edge sword for the scientists, on one hand giving them something which is already familiar to the public, whilst on the other preventing them from justifying some of the reasoning behind the BloodPharma project. The presence of the altruistic donation model in the UK requires the team to work a tricky balancing act, promoting this new product whilst still retaining the support for the current blood transfusion model which is so necessary for donors and potential patients. In this talk I will look at the reasons articulated by the scientific team for wanting to engage in outreach, and the ways in which this was achieved.  This speaks to a wider question of when, during the development of a new technology, it is appropriate to engage the public and potential end users.

Speaker Biography

Emma King completed her first degree in Genetics before moving into the area of Science and Technology Studies. She recently completed her PhD and has worked as a researcher in STIS since January 2013.


For more information, please contact Alyson Macdonald (tel. 0131 650 9113).