Molecular life science research makes major contributions to societal goals such as understanding and controlling human diseases, developing new medicines, materials and foods, as well controlling diseases of plants and animals. The public, policy makers and the media take interest in many issues related to the aims, outcomes and implications of such research, which often has an ethical dimension. Among recent publicly debated issues are vaccination, stem cell research, personalized medicine and genetically modified organisms.

The FEBS Science and Society Committee works at the interface between scientists, policy makers and the wider public with the following main aims:

  1. To contribute to shaping of effective science policy at the European level, for example by consulting with and acting as a unified voice for FEBS Constituent Societies and their members, or through collaborating with other European organizations with shared goals. Two main areas of interest are funding and regulation.
  2. To raise awareness among molecular life scientists of research developments and associated ethical/legal considerations in areas with high societal interest, for example through organizing a Science and Society session at the FEBS Congress on such a topic.
  3. To increase public understanding of science, for example by providing grants to FEBS Constituent Societies for public outreach activities in their countries.

Upcoming activities

Call for ‘Science and society’ activity/event proposals from FEBS Constituent Societies on the theme of ‘Nutrition and exercise as important factors for the proper function of the biochemical metabolism

FEBS Constituent Societies are invited to submit a proposal for a grant of up to €1500 to run a ‘science and society’ event or activity in 2024 on the topic of ‘Nutrition and exercise as important factors for the proper function of the biochemical metabolism’ by 31 December 2023. See the call for proposals here.

Recent activities

Science in the Street Event at the 47th FEBS Congress, Tours: Nutrition and exercise as important factors for the proper function of the biochemical metabolism 

The event, held at a hotel (outside the Congress venue) on 9 July 2023 and open to the public,  included talks from nutrigenomics specialist Rosita Gabbianelli from the University of Camerino, Italy, and Antonio Paoli from the University of Padua, Italy, who studies exercise physiology. The focus was on how nutrition and exercise impact metabolism, general public health and quality of life, and on explaining the purpose of the relevant research to a wide audience. Read more about the event, and about the importance of communicating with Society about research, on this FEBS Network post.

FEBS support for ‘Science and Society’ Constituent Society events/activities

Grants of €1500 from FEBS were awarded by the FEBS Science and Society Committee to:

  • the Croatian Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (HDBMB) for the popular science event ‘Contribution of bioscience to the green transition’ (24 May 2023; Zagreb, Croatia). Read more about the event on this FEBS Network post.
  • the Portuguese Biochemical Society (SPB) for an open symposium and exhibition on ‘Exploring RNA solutions to infectious and non-communicable diseases’ (27 November – 13 December 2023; Porto, Portugal).

2022: plastics theme
Grants of €1500 from FEBS were awarded by the FEBS Science and Society Committee to:

Science and Society session topics at recent FEBS Congresses

  • 2022 (Lisbon) RNA solutions to genetic and infectious diseases
  • 2021 (Ljubljana – Virtual) Plastics: revolution, pollution and substitution
  • 2019 (Krakow) Personalised medicine: a future vision
  • 2018 (Prague) Healthy microbiome, healthy host?
  • 2017 (Jerusalem) The role of CRISPR in personalized medicine: legal and ethical problems

Other work and resources

Science policy

Under the umbrella of the BioMed Alliance, FEBS recently participated in efforts with other organizations to obtain from the EU the best research budget for the Framework Program FP9. After the completion of discussions on FP9, and the allocation of the budget to the three ‘pillars’ and ‘horizontal actions’, efforts are focused on informing Constituent Societies about possibilities being developed in Pillars I and II for applications to competitive programs, and, with organizations such a the BioMed Alliance, inputting into criteria for programs and reviewer selection.

The past role of FEBS, together with other research organizations in Europe, in working towards the creation of the European Research Council  (ERC) for investigator-driven funding within Europe is described in Celis, J.E. and Gago, J.M. (2014) Shaping science policy in EuropeMol. Oncol. 8, 447–457

Research Integrity: A Code of Conduct

Ethical conduct is demanded in all activities supported by FEBS. Given increased concerns among scientists and the public about good research practice, and following discussion of codes of conduct by the FEBS Science and Society Committee, FEBS decided to subscribe to the European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity, prepared by the European Science Foundation/All European Academies. FEBS is grateful to the European Science Foundation for permission to refer to it. The Code calls for researchers, public and private research organizations, universities and funding organizations to observe and promote the principles of integrity in scientific and scholarly research, including reliability in performing research, honesty in communication, objectivity, impartiality and independence, openness and accessibility, duty of care, fairness in providing references and giving credit, and responsibility for the scientists and researchers of the future.

For members of the Science and Society Committee, click here.