We have published our new five-year strategyMaking ethics matter’, detailing the changes we are making to ensure ethics is successfully embedded in policy decisions from the outset.

For the past three decades, we have worked closely with our extensive network of scientists, bioethicists, research councils, professional bodies, Government departments and policymakers to identify and assess emerging ethical concerns caused by scientific and medical developments.

Our counsel and advice have helped shift public understanding, provided decision-makers with clarity, and led to lasting policy change in the UK, but we know we can go further, and we want to do more.

This new strategy is our commitment to shift focus onto issues at the intersection of scientific innovation and societal challenge. By this we mean the developments which have the potential to fundamentally change the way we live, promote health, treat illness, or even think about ‘being human’. This is how our work can have the biggest impact for the benefit of society.

It is also our promise to evolve our horizon scanning, so we are even better placed to identify and anticipate ethical challenges and dilemmas before they arise. This is how we will set the agenda, as well as respond to it.

And it is our roadmap for how we will cultivate bioethics networks to strengthen the voice and making ethics matter in biomedicine and health policy in the UK and internationally. This is how we will stand together to be stronger than when alone.

Danielle Hamm, Director of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics said:

Since becoming Director of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics two years ago, I have been struck by our ability to demonstrate the value of ethics to policymakers. But I know we can do more, and that is what this strategy is all about – pushing and challenging ourselves in the ways we must.

Working in this new way will ensure we maintain our academic rigour, and that our advice is positioned and presented in a way that policymakers can best engage and make use of. Ethics cannot be an afterthought; it needs to be an upfront consideration – that is what we are here to make clear and make happen.

Within our new strategy we have identified three topic areas that we will be prioritising – reproduction, parenthood and families, mind and brain, and the environment and health – in the first half of our strategy period. We have chosen these areas because they each raise critical ethical, social and policy issues on which we can offer a distinctive contribution. Indeed, they represent some of today’s most urgent and important developments in biomedicine and health.

Professor Sarah Cunningham-Burley, new Chair of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics said:

I am excited to have taken on the role of Council Chair, especially at such a pivotal time for the organisation. By combining in-depth, multidisciplinary research and deliberation with tailored outputs that speak to key decision makers I believe we will have real-world impact on debate, policy and practice for wide societal benefit.

You can read our full 2024-2028 strategy ‘Making ethics matter’ here. And a blog from Danielle and Sarah about our new ambitions here.