Kate Harvey is a Senior Research Officer at the Nuffield Council on Bioethics. Her research focuses on biomedical ethical issues and their application in policy.
Kate’s most recent work at Nuffield has focused on ethical issues in egg freezing, and research in global health emergencies (published just before the COVID-19 pandemic emerged). She also continues to work on implementing the recommendations of a 2017 project on cosmetic procedures, for which Professor Clare Chambers was a working group member. This project has enjoyed several successes – including that its recommendation on restricting under 18s’ access to invasive cosmetic procedures is now the subject of a Parliamentary Bill.
Kate is seconded to the School of Law at the University of Edinburgh for six months of the 2020/21 academic year. While seconded, Kate is leading on the development of a series of policy briefs that synthesise key findings of a five-year research programme on health research regulation.
What are you working on now?
I am working on a new project for the Nuffield Council that will explore the ethical implications of the emerging role of biomedical science and technology in helping people to live well in older age – particularly innovations that seek to enhance quality of life for older people. The project will also look at such innovations in the context of wider policy questions that will examine and explore what ‘living well’ involves – including the social and economic factors that affect how people can live well in older age.
A key part of this project’s success will depend on Nuffield’s engagement with a broad range of contributors. Establishing a programme of public engagement to support this project will therefore be something that I will be working on throughout its two-year timeframe. Indeed, seeking the views of the public to inform policymaking across bioethical issues has been core to all my project work at Nuffield.
Working with experts in areas of research that relate to innovation in biomedical science and technologies around ageing will also be vital for the project’s success. I am therefore keen to hear from people working in this area, so please do get in touch if you are interested in contributing to our project.
Separate to my work at the Nuffield Council, I am also exploring how trust and trustworthiness can be nurtured in healthcare regulatory ecosystems with colleagues at the University of Edinburgh.
How has your career to date led to this?
For the last few years, a central part of my work at the Nuffield Council has been to involve and engage broader audiences. This was something that meaningfully took hold in 2015 for a project on research ethics for clinical research with children and young people. This project was a perfect route to bringing innovative approaches to the Nuffield Council’s engagement work, leading to the co-development of animations and films with children and young people.
What one thing would you most want someone to learn from what you’ve done or are doing now?
That ethical issues should not be presented or discussed in ways that might exclude non-expert audiences. From a bioethical policymaking perspective, to do so is to shoot oneself in the foot as it is from our interactions with diverse groups that we are offered alternative perspectives and opportunities to think differently about our work and – importantly – its real world applications.
What do you think of Jesus College and the Intellectual Forum?
The Intellectual Forum has a reputation for fantastic events that bring together interesting, and interested, contributors and collaborators. I’m really excited to join the Intellectual Forum and, when circumstances allow, look forward to visiting in person.