EASAC Biosciences and Public Health Programme
The biosciences are widely seen as having huge potential to bring benefits in many applications, and fundamental biological topics are now ready for major advances in understanding.
Biosciences research is continuing to attract increasing investment from governments and businesses world-wide. But the scale of the societal challenges demands sustained commitment, new multidisciplinary perspectives and collaboration on complex systems. Many scientific and policy-making communities are beginning to recognise the need for new, integrated, ways of thinking and working, and there will be mobilisation of new resources at the international as well as national level.
The biosciences are highly relevant in policy work on the environment and energy, and these applications are covered by the designated EASAC portfolios on these topics. The objective of the Biosciences portfolio is to explore where the scientific evidence base can help to inform policy development in other priority areas for the European Institutions, particularly in health and agriculture and in the progression of novel technologies with potentially multiple applications.
The Biosciences portfolio draws on, and extends, previous EASAC expertise in this broad area, currently covering a range of interests:
- Public health and health care, including biomedical opportunities and challenges, translational science and the relationship with innovation.
- Planetary Health and One Health issues, including animal health and human-animal-environment interfaces, particularly systemic challenges e.g. climate change.
- Science and policy issues for emerging technologies and their socio-economic impact in the EU; for example, biotechnology, nanotechnology, synthetic biology, personalised medicine, artificial intelligence and digital therapeutics.
- Food and nutrition security and sustainable agriculture, including plant sciences and related applications of genomics and genetics for new breeding techniques.
- Biosecurity, biosafety and other technical, bioethical and societal concerns related to developments in the biosciences.
Topics are agreed by EASAC Council on the basis of advice from the Biosciences Steering Panel. In each case, the focus is on EU policy needs, but it is recognised that similar issues often arise world-wide and individual projects take account of the global context. Frequently, the project remit requires both consideration of the implications of the scientific evidence for policy formulation and the evaluation of the adequacy of the relevant science base.
There are frequent interactions between the Programme Directors to explore the potential for project collaboration. For example, Biosciences Panel members contributed advice to the Environment Programme-led project on Regenerative Medicine