Skip to main content

From Whitechapel to Westminster: Queen Mary takes part in ‘Week in Westminster’ scheme

Professor Seif Shaheen from Queen Mary University of London will be taking time out from his research as an epidemiologist to venture into the world of politics. 

Published on:
Professor Seif Shaheen
Professor Seif Shaheen

Starting from 2 December, Professor Shaheen will be visiting Professor Lord Robert Winston in the House of Lords for a ‘Week in Westminster’ as part of a unique ‘pairing’ scheme run by the Royal Society – the UK’s national academy of science.

Lord Winston is an alumnus of Queen Mary’s medical school, known then as The London, graduating in 1964. He is a world-renowned fertility expert and one of the pioneers of in-vitro fertilisation (IVF). He has presented several award-winning BBC television series, including The Human Body, The Superhuman and A Child of our Time.

During the week Professor Shaheen will shadow Lord Winston and learn about his work, including his membership of the House of Lords Science and Technology Select Committee, as well as attending seminars, Question Time, debates and Select Committee meetings in both Houses of Parliament.

The scheme will provide Professor Shaheen with a behind-the-scenes insight into how science policy is formed as well as an understanding of the working life of a Peer.  

Professor Seif Shaheen, Clinical Professor of Respiratory Epidemiology at Queen Mary University of London, Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, comments:“I am very excited to be taking part in this scheme and it is a great privilege to be paired with Lord Winston. As someone working in academic public health I am interested to find out more about how scientific evidence can be translated into science policy. How political decisions are made on scientific and public health issues, what the barriers are to implementing policy, and how scientists can work with politicians to overcome these obstacles. I am also interested in Public Engagement, and so I will be picking Lord Winston’s brains on this topic too – who better to ask!”

The Royal Society’s MP-Scientist pairing scheme aims to build bridges between parliamentarians and some of the best scientists in the UK. It is an opportunity for MPs to become better informed about science issues and for scientists to understand how they can influence science policy.

Over 200 pairs of scientists and MPs have taken part in the scheme since it was launched in 2001. This is the first year that a peer has been invited to take part.

Sir Paul Nurse, President of the Royal Society, comments: “We live in a world facing increasing challenges that can only be addressed with a clear understanding of science.  From climate change to influenza outbreaks, GM food to nuclear power, our MPs have to make decisions about complex issues that will affect the lives of all those in the UK and, in many cases, more widely throughout the world.  This means that MPs and scientists have a responsibility to engage with each other to get the best possible scientific advice into public policy making. We set up the Royal Society’s MP Scientist pairing scheme in 2001 to provide the opportunity for MPs and scientists to build long-term relationships with each other and have now organised over two hundred pairings. 

"I know many parliamentarians and scientists who have gained from the scheme, and the shaping of public policy can only improve over time as these relationships continue to grow.”

Back to top