Your Society

Published: 31 Jul 2018

In my last blog in April I shared a few thoughts about our new five-year strategy. As you would expect from me as Chief Executive, our long-term goals are never far from my mind, so I want to return to the subject here to consider how we have begun to take that plan forward.

All about leadership

In the new strategy, Council wanted to commit the Society to demonstrating leadership. The language of the strategy is peppered with talk of being proactive, “setting the agenda”, “being the leader”. So it has been great to see that being taken forward in some of the recent work that the Society has delivered.

For example, last month we launched – with support from some 30 organisations across the life sciences – a new curriculum for the use of research animals. The UK is already a world leader in the appropriate and ethical use of animals in research. But as well as being designed to build on that strength, our new curriculum challenges educators to place greater focus on experimental design, data interpretation, ethics and animal welfare. We wanted to build a cross-sector coalition to create a highly skilled and well informed next generation of researchers, and I’m delighted to see that we have been able to take the first steps towards that. Please do take a look at the curriculum itself, and the blog explaining the thinking behind it.

Another example of how our stated aim to “set the agenda in education and skills” is coming to life is the ongoing development of the education and assessment offer from BPS Assessment Ltd (BPSA). BPSA has recently gone live with a new website – – which showcases the new and developing prescribing eLearning and assessment capabilities available through its Prescribing Skills Assessment. The purpose of BPSA is to drive improvements in medication safety worldwide through safer prescribing and a knowledge of clinical pharmacology and therapeutics. We hope that the example we have set by delivering the Prescribing Safety Assessment in partnership in the UK will be helpful to medical educators and healthcare systems in other countries. The project is a great example of the Society contributing to a hugely important issue on a global stage.

Young members setting the agenda

Where the strategy talks about “support[ing] the next generation of learners” and “support[ing] pharmacology educators in their personal and professional development”, it’s important to be clear that this is about far more than the Society doing things for our members. It is also about members taking an opportunity or a platform that we give them and making it their own.

That is why I was so impressed by the timely and articulate blogs we posted recently by some of our younger members about their fears for a looming mental health crisis among PhD students and early career researchers. Aidan Seeley and Niamh McKerr, followed by Edward Wickstead, not only drew attention to this very important problem; they made it real by sharing their own experiences. And they appealed to their fellow members, whatever their age or career stage, to help us as a community of members to start a conversation about what can be done to improve the environment for students.

Coincidentally, we are now in the middle of the application period to elect an Early Career Trustee position on Council, which will be vacated by Aidan Seeley at the end of the year. Full details of the role and selection process are available on the website.

If you are eligible, and if you share the Society’s appetite for leadership, I hope you choose to apply.


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