The Academy pursues an interdisciplinary approach to policy. We bring together researchers, partners and the public as well as other disciplines such as engineering, social and environmental science to explore opportunities for innovation and find ways around barriers to progress.
We publish working group reports, statements, consultation responses and discussion papers. These tackle the most significant health challenges in our society including health inequalities, climate change, mental health and global health security. We connect our Fellows, researchers, patient and the public with policymakers through workshops, roundtables, private briefings and networking events.
We believe public engagement is essential for robust policy making, ensuring recommendations are appropriate and relevant to people's hopes and concerns. We have developed high quality public dialogue models to bring the views of the public and patients to the core of our science policy work.
Our policy work has established us as a unique resource for independent, expert advice on medical science policy and career development.
Our policy work has impact because of our rigour, independence, engagement, partnership and conduct. Find out more about each of these in the tabs below.
Our Fellows underpin all stages of our policy work. They contribute by suggesting topics, providing evidence, or being members of steering groups or working parties.
The Fellows on our Council, including the Officers of the Academy, provide robust governance of the process to ensure that our outputs are thorough and considered. Our major policy reports are peer reviewed by a committee, chaired by a Fellow, before they are submitted for approval by Council. All of this ensures the intellectual rigour and authority of our work.
An authoritative evidence base is vital to our policy projects. The expertise and experience of the Fellows is complemented by the participation of other experts. We normally issue a public call for evidence at the start of our major policy studies, which may be followed by a workshop and oral evidence sessions.
The independence of our policy work is vital for its credibility and authority.
Although many of our major policy projects are commissioned by government and other organisations, we only accept commissions where we can influence the terms of reference and control the time and content of the publication. We try to balance competing interests on working groups, symposium programmes and other groupings that contribute to our work. All our working group members must declare any conflicts of interest that they have.
We engage with a wide range of stakeholders to inform all stages of our work and connect our Fellowship, researchers, patients and the public with policymakers through workshops, roundtables, briefings and networking events.
We collaborate with like-minded organisations to agree common positions and to share information. Membership of formal advisory committees as well as informal networks and partnerships enables us to influence policy at its earliest stages, to ensure that our policy recommendations are made with an understanding of the perspective of stakeholders, and to disseminate our reports. Our Fellows and staff work with a diverse range of formal and ad hoc groups that advise government, including the All Party Parliamentary Group on Medical Research, events at the annual Party Conferences, briefing papers and private meetings. We are also training a new generation of researchers who are confident in engaging in policy through our highly successful policy internship scheme for PhD students who are funded by the Medical Research Council and Wellcome.
We welcome ideas from others about possible new policy projects that we could take on. Our President meets regularly with key politicians, with policymakers such as the Chief Medical Officer and the Government’s Chief Scientific Advisor and with leaders of the life sciences community. Engaging with patients and the public is at the heart of our policy work to ensure that the hopes and concerns of wider society, as well as the knowledge of the medical community, shape our advice.
Many of our projects are undertaken in collaboration with other UK and international bodies such as charities, research funders, or industry. This increases their impact.
We regularly work in partnership – formally and informally – with organisations including: the other UK National Academies; Wellcome; Cancer Research UK; the Medical Research Council; Association of Medical Research Charities and the Medical Schools Council.
The conduct of our projects reflects our commitment to rigour, engagement, partnership and independence.
The ideas for new projects may arise from recommendations from the Academy’s Council or Fellowship, or in response to consultations from Government, Parliament and other relevant bodies, or from a direct commission. We work with our Fellows and other experts to develop the scope of the project. We only take on projects where we are sure our work will have an impact.
The nature of the issue we are tackling determines the approach that we use. When we want to make policy recommendations, and where there is likely to be a general consensus between experts, then we will normally undertake a working group study. When there are likely to be a range of views expressed, perhaps because the topic is controversial, or in an emerging research field, then we will organise a workshop or symposium. In some cases quiet diplomacy may be the most influential action.
A major working group study allows time for extensive consultation and deliberation, but it can take a long while to generate outputs. Sometimes we need to act very quickly. If needed, we can identify Fellows to respond to an urgent request for advice within hours.
Dissemination and follow-up
We always plan how we will disseminate the outputs of a project, and follow up the work, before the project is finished. The dissemination plan for major policy reports will include meetings between the experts involved and those at whom our recommendations are targeted. We also disseminate our work through our extensive network of contacts, gained through our membership of formal and informal advisory committees. We use traditional and new media to promote our policy positions.
We also have a commitment in our strategy to follow up the key recommendations and conclusions of our reports within two years of publication.