1000 Young People To Make Views On Stem Cell Research Known, UK
Dr Mark Lythgoe, Director of the Centre for Advanced Biomedical Imaging, will chair the debate, which comes hot on the heels of this week's news that President Obama has removed curbs on Federal funding for embryonic stem cell research in the USA; hoping the legislation will assist in finding treatments for grave diseases like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and diabetes.
In Britain too, the recent debate in Parliament on The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, and this week's announcement that scientists at King's College, London have developed a tiny scaffold of stem cells to fill holes in the brain caused by stroke damage, demonstrates the immediacy of this controversial issue. Much of the counter-debate to the disease-curing advances of this type of research centres around the ethical issues of 'playing God'; the practise of extracting stem cells for research from human embryos that have been discarded during fertility treatments is also highlighted by critics.
The event follows a successful tour of London and UK schools of Nobody Lives Forever, a play written by Judith Johnson and produced by Y Touring, which explored some of the social, moral, scientific and political questions raised by stem cell research.
"Y Touring exists to encourage young people to think about controversial issues, to talk about them and to listen to the views of others and to make an informed decision about their own feelings", said Y Touring Artistic Director Nigel Townsend.
All schools hosting the Autumn 2008 tour of 'Nobody Lives Forever' were asked to create two films as responses to the play - one in favour of stem cell research and one against. Six of these films will be shown during the Arena of Debate on Thursday 2 April as these students and others discuss the issues which form part of the 21st century school science curriculum.
The finale of the massive debate will see participants using a state-of-the-art electronic voting system to register their feelings on the subject. This 'Arena of Debate' process, funded by John Robinson and Dr Derek Stubbs, reaffirms the Royal Albert Hall's mission to promote the arts and science, initiated when the Hall was opened in 1871 as tribute to Prince Albert, who wanted to build a venue that would house permanent exhibitions of the arts, industry and science
The panel will include Josephine Quintavalle - co-founder of Comment on Reproductive Ethics (CORE), Dr Stephen Minger - Senior Lecturer of Stem Cell Biology Laboratory in the Wolfson Centre for Age Related Disease at King's College London, Dr Sophie Petit-Zeman - Head of External Relations at the Association of Medical Research Charities, Dr Callum MacKellar - Director of Research of the Scottish Council on Human Bioethics and Dr Donald Bruce - Director of Edinethics Ltd all of whom leading figures in their field.
Royal Albert Hall Learning and Participation sparks imagination, inspires creativity and opens doors to new experiences and audiences. The Hall works with children, teachers, young people and families, especially those who would not otherwise come to the building, reaching some 30,000 people a year from a diverse range of backgrounds.
Royal Albert Hall Learning and Participation delivers a range of stimulating learning opportunities linked to the Hall's diverse and exciting calendar of events and the unique and magical qualities of the building itself. These include specially created tours, projects, participative workshops and school matinees.
For further information visit http://www.royalalberthall.com
Y Touring Theatre Company is an operation of Central YMCA, the UK's leading activity for health charity and the world's first YMCA. It is an ITC/Equity registered, award winning professional theatre company, established in 1989. Its audiences are young people and adults. Its mission is to produce quality theatre, new media, drama workshops and educational resources that enable audiences to explore and debate difficult and sensitive health based issues. Y Touring pioneered Theatre of Debate® and continues to use this format in many of its productions.
'Theatre of Science at its very best' (Prof Lewis Wolpert, The Independent on Sunday)
In the past issues have included: sexuality, binge drinking, drug abuse, xenotransplantation, mental illness, the implications of brain research, eugenics, preimplantation selection, genetically modified food, stem cell research, relationships, racism and ethics. Productions take place in a range of settings including theatres, schools, colleges and community and arts centres. Productions have also been staged in prisons, youth offenders' centres, YMCA centres, at science events , conferences and company training days.
Y Touring has produced over 54 regional, national and international tours of plays by professional playwrights including Judith Johnson, Judy Upton, Jonathan Hall, Nicola Baldwin, Rhiannon Tise, Rachel Wagstaff and Laura FitzGerald reaching over 2 million young people around the country.
For further information on Y Touring, please visit: http://www.ytouring.org.uk.
For further information on Central YMCA, please visit http://www.ymca.co.uk
Registered Charity No 213121
112 Great Russell Street
London WC1B 3NQ
Tel: 020 7343 1844
Fax: 020 7436 2687
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