UK General Election 2024 - Read our five key asks of the next government full report and executive summary

Enabling environmentally sustainable biomedical research

09.30, Wednesday 15 March 2023

The Academy of Medical Sciences, 41 Portland Place London

The Academy of Medical Sciences FORUM hosted a workshop on ‘enabling environmentally sustainable biomedical research’, in partnership with the Medical Research Council and the National Institute of Health and Care Research.

Workshop report

The report was launched at the Royal Society conference on 'Sustainability in the research and innovation endeavour' during a panel session run by the Academy of Medical Sciences' FORUM, which continued the conversation and focused in particular on the challenges faced in enabling greener clinical research. You can watch the panel discussion on the Royal Society's YouTube channel, and download the report below.


The report launch was reported on in Research Professional, and the Health Research Authority and Midlands Innovation picked up on messages from the workshop in relevant blog posts. The report has also been cited in a recent article in Nature Medicine. Next steps proposed by participants in the workshop are, among other things, forming past of the basis for the work of the newly formed greener trials subgroup of the MRC-NIHR Trials Methodology Research Partnership. 

Clinical and biomedical research is a significant contributor to the UK’s carbon footprint, and a large consumer of single-use plastics. Additional environmental impacts include the production of waste and use of reagents. Improving the environmental sustainability of biomedical research will be essential for achieving the UK Government’s target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050, and can improve cost-effectiveness, in addition to environmental and health benefits.

Despite rising awareness of the environmental impact of clinical and biomedical research, researchers face a lack of knowledge, support and incentives to conduct their work sustainably. As well as discussing systemic barriers, this workshop considered the different stages of the research pathway, including the distinct and overlapping challenges of ‘wet lab’ and clinical research. The workshop brought together participants from different research contexts, including early-career and senior researchers, laboratory technicians and managers, sustainability experts from industry, academia, and healthcare, and funders and regulators.

With this in mind, the objectives of the workshop were to:

  • Explore the distinct and overlapping challenges of conducting environmentally sustainable ‘wet lab’ and clinical research, including the gaps in the evidence base and the current lack of governance.
  • Identify interventions to promote environmentally sustainable biomedical research, including considerations for labs, funders, regulators, technology companies, and workforce planning.
  • Consider opportunities presented by a move to environmentally sustainable biomedical research, including commercial opportunities and cost savings.
  • Convene relevant stakeholders to explore best practice and promote collaboration.


This workshop took place in-person* at the Academy of Medical Sciences, 41 Portland Place from 9.30 to 16.30 on Wednesday 15 March.


*After careful consideration, the workshop steering group strongly recommended that an in-person event would help participants form meaningful connections, particularly important considering the difficulty of identifying initiatives across sectors to make research more sustainable. However, we asked that attendees considered the environmental impact of their travel to the workshop (e.g. avoid air travel, choose public transport etc).

The Academy’s FORUM provides a neutral and independent platform for individuals from across academia, industry, the NHS and Government, and the charity, regulatory and wider healthcare sector, to meet and take forward national discussions on scientific opportunities, technology trends and associated strategic choices for healthcare. Find out more.

Key contacts

Meet the President - June 2024 (Online)

Book Now

Meet the President - Manchester

Book Now

Meet the President - Cambridge

Book Now
View more
FB Twitter Instagram Youtube