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“The Battle Is Coming” – Reality Vs Delusion

"The Battle Is Coming" – Reality Vs Delusion



"The Battle Is Coming" - Reality Vs Delusion Tyler Durden Thu, 09/10/2020 - 08:07

Authored by Bill Blain via,

The New Reality

“Denial is not just a river in Africa.”

So Tesla bounced. Really...? Schroedinger's and all that.... 

I am going to try something different this morning.  So please bear with, and let me know what you think..

I woke up with a headache – from thinking about where markets are going. Markets are very “complex” at the moment.   There are a host of conflicting short, medium and long-term dynamics underway – which are happening and interreacting faster and with more impact than many of us have the capacity to understand.  Try it.  The speed of change is skipping by us – numbing us to many of changes going on around us. 

I’ve tried to step back and figure it out… but tying together the contradictory bluster of market dynamics is going to take longer than the few hours I normally spend on the Porridge over a cup of tea each morning… So instead, I am just going to chuck a whole series of vaguely connected thoughts at my cell home office wall and see if some of them stick...

Here are some random(ish) thoughts about markets and politics….

The Pandemic

Doesn’t matter how serious Covid-19 has been.  The effect has been to shock the global economy.  The Pandemic detail is moving markets in the short-term, but also setting the narrative for the future.  The effect of each new lockdown, vaccine hopes, or government failure on testing, can be seen daily.  The longer-lasting effects on company plans and government spending will ultimately determine where the global economy goes.

Reality:  Even after a cure, the Pandemic will remain an historical shock that’s roiled short-term markets and set multiple long-term agenda.  Stop denying it.  Get used to it. 

Bubbles and Value

A speculative bubble burst is underway.  Investors belief in exceptional story stocks and missing out on “cheap” new IPOs has been a factor of markets since someone first swapped a bushel of corn for a piglet.  Hype and FOMO drive up hopes and expectations.  The last 6 months has seen the bubble vibe reach extraordinary levels – look at Tech and new IPOs going to crazy prices.  It’s been fuelled by the ultra-low zero returns from markets, and fear of the future. 

There is always denial bubbles will burst, usually because of the false notion:“this time it’s different”.   I got called a “fat-moron” and worse on the Twittersphere for my comments y’day about Tesla being worth 10% of its peak value.  Even though there may be a curious logic behind bubbles, the lack of returns means they burst and inevitably suffer from mean reversion.

Reality:  Bubbles are inevitable.  Ignore them.  Value lies in “cheap” and under-priced. Its not apparent yet, but every market recovery and the most attractive opportunities and gains come from knocked back, neglected and cheap assets. 

The Global Economy

Whatever the optimists say about the apparent strength and speed of recovery from the Pandemic shutdown – it’s had very real negative effects.  Growth may be returning, and many of the jobs lost or furloughed have been reopened.  However, vast sectors of the tourism, hospitality and aerospace industries remain shuttered – which will continue to drag down economies.  There has been repressed consumer spending, but equally there is genuine consumer fear about their jobs. 

Reality:  No one is talking about V or L shaped recoveries anymore.  It’s more complex.  The real economy has taken a massive knock, and that could take years to play out, even if Global GDP recovers more quickly.  As the economy recovers it will adapt.  It’s likely we’ll see 90-95% of activity recover quickly, but the last 5-10% prove much more difficult and “sticky” as the economy struggles to adapt to the massive pandemic changes.  

Stock Markets. 

The recent stock market correction is likely to inject some common sense back into the market.  There will be a shift back towards strong fundamentals which will include the decent profits and outlook for many Tech firms.  After this corrective phase and a strong coffee, stocks will return to elevated levels.  Upside will be fuelled by the relative value of stocks in a time of ultra-repressed bond returns, and because if the inflation threat emerges it makes more sense to own equity assets rather than debt in a time of potential rising inflation. 

Reality: Confidence will remain “nervous” in the wake of ongoing economic weakness stemming from the pandemic, but volatility has been repressed thus far. Stocks look at better bet than bonds. 

Corporate Debt

There is a curious belief that buying corporate debt in a recessionary market can’t be a bad thing because government support, stimulus and QE infinity will support and keep the market liquid.  True, but returns are close to zero, and kept there only because of intervention.  If inflation returns?  Your problem if you hold debt. 

Burgeoning Corporate debt is a threat – the longer the pandemic ravages balance sheets, mounting solvency risks, delayed investment and Zombie companies will create longer and sustained economic damage and long-term reliance on government largesse.  Zombie companies are never good – they damage the market’s self-regulating mechanism: creative destruction.

Reality: Solvent and barely solvent companies are issuing record amounts of debt at ultra-low rates because a) they can, c) lots of investors mandates require them to buy, and c) corporates see the upside of inflation inflating away their debt. The risks are stagflation further damaging solvency, or deflation. There isn’t much upside to justify taking these risks.

Sovereign Debt

Short-term, surging Sovereign debt should not be allowed to become a crisis or cause governments with the advantage of “Monetary Sovereignty” to consider scaling back stimulus or introduce austerity packages. Owning the money presses supports the US, GB, CH and Japan – but not so much under an inflationary scenario - which will pretty much prove that monetary sovereignty is subordinate to the FX markets, and break the Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) case.

Countries without monetary sovereignty – which includes the whole Euro zone – are going to struggle to finance recovery and face destructive austerity unless the rules can be broken. Dollarised EM economies will struggle. 

Reality: The opportunity could prove to be Europe. If the EU has been bounced into a proper fiscal union as a result of agreeing the €750 bln Recovery Plan, then nations like Spain, Italy and Greece can avoid austerity and reflate. That will trigger growth across Europe. It’s a big risk – and largely about dmonstic European politics accepting the fiat accompli of  full debt-sharing union acheived by default. 

Fiat Currency

Sovereign Debt and Fiat Currency are critically linked. How much money can governments create?  MMT – which is hardly modern – is trending towards a theory of "smart government" monetary creation to finance social betterment and recovery. One strand argues helicopter money – putting cash directly in the hand of consumers - to drive consumption will work, and that taxes are a critical issue to ensure workers participate in the economy. 

A better question might be.. How much money can governments create and get away with? At what point does confidence break? Will too much debt issued by less-than-competent governments cause an FX crisis triggering inflation? Will unlimited government helicopter drops trigger inflation, rising interest rates (or FX collapse) and stagflation. 

Reality: There are lots of questions on MMT – its a cosmetically attractive option, which is why we should be wary.  The alternative is worse. Austerity and the nonsense that running an economy is like a family budget will create massive long-lasting recession. 


Always believe… Gold is not just an inflation hedge. It’s an MMT hedge as well! MMT sounds great in theory, but no plan survives contact with enemy of FX markets. Go for the Italian Job thesis - £4mm in Gold in 1968 is worth £411 mm in real terms today. Gold is a real asset. 

Reality: I hold Gold. 

The Political Economy

Over the 12 years I’ve been writing the Porridge (35 years in markets!) I’ve come to understand that markets will always be markets – no matter how distorted they become. However, the most active force upon them is politics.  I don’t think markets appreciate just how fundamentally and quickly politics is changing.  In the past year Markets took great relief when the UK rejected its flirtation with Corbynism, and everyone agreed Bernie Sanders would have been a terrible President… but listen and look at what’s happening out there as society changes and adapts. It’s happening faster than you think.

There is growing sense of deja-vu – this has happened before. Big companies, the banks, senior management and owners are reaping the rewards. They are being bailed out while losses are being felt most across the lowest echelons of society. The more middle-class a job, the easier it’s been to work from home and avoid furlough. That may change as manual workers are seeing their jobs return while many office workers are likely to learn what an unemployment office looks like. Inequality is rising. 

The reality is that over the last 12 years since the last crisis, the consequences of over-regulation, QE and NIRP/ZIRP, tax handouts, and the rest has greatly distorted markets and changed political behaviours and expectations. Its leading to massive social changes that markets have been resolutely blind to in terms of rising income inequality and social injustice. 

The battle is coming. 

Markets hide behind the monetarist claim Private Enterprise will always do things better than Government. Markets love the "shareholder economy" – Milton Friedman’s dictum that the recipe for success is to run companies to maximise shareholder returns.  However, corporate failures (Boeing being a great example), massive payouts to lacklustre  management, and billionaires in world that still can’t eradicate poverty, cry out for Change! 

A shift towards a more inclusive and equalising Stakeholder Capitalism where workers and consumers share with the owners and management the fruits of their combined labour (very clause 4!) and spending is underway whether markets like it or not. That's the way politics will trend.

Such a shift in the role of Government has not yet been properly addressed by the lethargic political classes – although I suspect the chaotic Boris Johnson government will stagger into it at some point and get it profoundly mixed up. 

Reality: the world is changing. Politics is likely to demand a shift from wealth creation in the private sector. That’s not necessarily a bad thing in terms of health, education and welfare provision, and may mean a vastly increased role for infrastructure finance. At the end of the day.. it will all depend on government debt. Will the MMT illusion work?  


Its going to be interesting... and I didn't mention global financial reset once... 

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EUR/AUD bearish breakdown supported by additional China fiscal stimulus and AU inflation

Weak PMI readings from the Eurozone, an increase in China’s budget deficit ratio, and renewed inflationary pressures in Australia may trigger a persistent…



  • Weak PMI readings from the Eurozone, an increase in China’s budget deficit ratio, and renewed inflationary pressures in Australia may trigger a persistent bearish sentiment loop in EUR/AUD.
  • Watch the key short-term resistance at 1.6700 for EUR/AUD.
  • A break below 1.6250 key medium-term support on the EUR/AUD may trigger a multi-week bearish impulsive down move.

The Euro (EUR) tumbled overnight throughout the US session as it erased its prior gains against the US dollar recorded on Monday, 23 October; the EUR/USD shed -104 pips from yesterday’s intraday high of 1.0695 to close the US session at 1.0591, its weakest performance in the past seven sessions.

Yesterday’s resurgence of the USD dollar strength has been attributed to a robust set of October flash manufacturing and services PMI data from the US in contrast with weak readings seen in the UK and Eurozone that represented stagflation risks.

Interestingly, the Aussie dollar (AUD) has outperformed the US dollar where the AUD/USD managed to squeeze out a minor daily gain of 21 pips by the close of yesterday’s US session. The resilient movement of the AUD/USD has been impacted by positive news flow out from China, Australia’s key trading partner.

China’s national legislature has just approved a budgetary plan to raise the fiscal deficit ratio for 2023 to around 3.8% of its GDP which was above the initial 3% set in March and set to issue additional sovereign debt worth 1 trillion yuan in Q4. This latest round of additional fiscal stimulus suggests that China’s top policymakers are expanding their initial targeted measures to address the ongoing severe liquidity crunch in the domestic property market as well as to reverse the persistent weak sentiment inherent in the stock market.

In addition, the latest set of Australia’s inflation data surpassed expectations has also reinforced another layer of positive feedback loop in the Aussie dollar which in turn may put Australia’s central bank, RBA on a “hawkish guard” against cutting its policy cash rate too soon.

The less lagging monthly CPI Indicator has risen to an annualized rate of 5.6% in September, above consensus estimates of 5.4%, and surpassed August’s reading of 5.2% which has translated into a second consecutive month of uptick in inflationary growth.

In the lens of technical analysis, a potential bearish configuration setup has emerged in the EUR/AUD cross pair from a short to medium-term perspective.

Major uptrend phase of EUR/AUD is weakening


Fig 1: EUR/AUD medium-term trend as of 25 Oct 2023 (Source: TradingView, click to enlarge chart)

Even though the price actions of the EUR/AUD have been oscillating within a major ascending channel since its 25 August 2023 low of 1.4285 and traded above the key 200-day moving average so far, the momentum of this up movement is showing signs of bullish exhaustion.

Yesterday (24 October) price action ended with a daily bearish reversal “Marubozu” candlestick coupled with the daily RSI momentum indicator that retreated right at a significant parallel resistance in place since March 2023 at the 65 level which suggests a revival of medium-term bearish momentum.

EUR/AUD bears are now attacking the minor ascending support

Fig 2: EUR/AUD minor short-term trend as of 25 Oct 2023 (Source: TradingView, click to enlarge chart)

The EUR/AUD has now staged a bearish price action follow-through via the breakdown of its minor ascending support from its 29 September 2023 low after a momentum bearish breakdown that was flashed earlier yesterday (24 October) during the European session as seen from the 4-hour RSI momentum indicator.

Watch the 1.6700 key short-term pivotal resistance (also the 50-day moving average) for a further potential slide toward the intermediate supports of 1.6460 and 1.6320 in the first step.

On the other hand, a clearance above 1.6700 invalidates the bearish tone to see the next intermediate resistance coming in at 1.6890.

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GigXR partners with NUS Medicine to deliver holographic clinical scenarios for gastroenterology training

GigXR, Inc., a global provider of holographic healthcare training, announced today its partnership with the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University…



GigXR, Inc., a global provider of holographic healthcare training, announced today its partnership with the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore (NUS Medicine), one of the world’s leading medical schools, to introduce a new gastrointestinal module for the award-winning HoloScenarios application. Created to better prepare medical and nursing students in diagnosing and treating acute gastrointestinal diseases, HoloScenarios: Gastrointestinal delivers evidence-based, robust clinical simulations that present hyperrealistic holographic simulated patients and medical equipment to be used in any physical learning environment, accessed anywhere in the world.

Credit: Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore (NUS Medicine), and GigXR

GigXR, Inc., a global provider of holographic healthcare training, announced today its partnership with the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore (NUS Medicine), one of the world’s leading medical schools, to introduce a new gastrointestinal module for the award-winning HoloScenarios application. Created to better prepare medical and nursing students in diagnosing and treating acute gastrointestinal diseases, HoloScenarios: Gastrointestinal delivers evidence-based, robust clinical simulations that present hyperrealistic holographic simulated patients and medical equipment to be used in any physical learning environment, accessed anywhere in the world.

Going beyond linear step-based training traditionally seen with virtual reality (VR), HoloScenarios: Gastrointestinal uses mixed reality (MR) to simulate the entire patient journey, while including branching logic to catalyze variance in learning experiences. From taking basic medical history to performing invasive testing and emergency procedures, the new module empowers learners to master vital medical decision-making and manual skills as they would see them in real-life clinical scenarios and patient care.

HoloScenarios: Gastrointestinal is created in collaboration with renowned medical professionals and educators from NUS Medicine who specialize in the fields of Gastrointestinal (GI) Surgery and holographic medical training. The module is delivered by the Gig Immersive Learning Platform, the enterprise-scale platform enabling the creation, curation, and sharing of immersive training applications and modules made by the world’s preeminent healthcare institutions and MR developers.

“Gastrointestinal pathologies can be complex and challenging to diagnose. This module will allow learners to form a deeper understanding and appreciation of the gastrointestinal tract, especially the three-dimensional understanding of anatomy and body functions,” said Associate Professor Alfred Kow Wei Chieh from the school’s Department of Surgery and Assistant Dean (Education) at NUS Medicine. “We believe mixed reality is the next evolution in healthcare training, and collaborating with immersive platform innovators like GigXR helps us to bring this vital content to more learners globally and, ultimately, improve patient care.”

With international medical and surgical credentials that include MBBS (S’pore), M Med (Surg), FRCSEd (Gen Surg), FAMS, and FACS, Associate Professor Kow has trained thousands of healthcare professionals and advanced surgical fellows. He received the 2023 REAL Advancing in Liver Transplantation Award for his contributions to global liver transplantation education and is a founding member of The Holomedicine® Association.

“GigXR has one of the most advanced and comprehensive platforms in mixed reality, especially in medical training, and enables the exchange of developments, innovation, and expertise with a wider community across Asia and beyond,” added Associate Professor Kow. He is also the Head and Senior Consultant of the Division of Hepatobiliary & Pancreatic Surgery, Department of Surgery, at Singapore’s National University Hospital (NUH), the teaching hospital of NUS Medicine.

The new module also delivers enhanced realism in training learners to more accurately diagnose and treat acute gastrointestinal diseases. Whereas VR has been widely used in gastroenterology training for linear step-based skills, such as in endoscopic procedures, it is limited in its ability to simulate fully realized clinical scenarios. Holographic patient simulation in MR merges hyper-realistic holograms in physical learning spaces that accurately reflect the clinical environment and tools with which learners will care for real patients.

With HoloScenarios: Gastrointestinal, learners can interact with the holographic simulated patients, holographic medical equipment, instructors, and each other. This allows them to master both technical and soft skills, such as patient empathy and team communication, in hyper-realistic, safe-to-fail environments that reduce cognitive load. If the holographic patient displays the need for further care, such as a definitive surgery, learners can discuss a definitive treatment plan.

To gain a deeper evaluation of outward symptoms, co-located learners can safely walk around the patient hologram that is displayed on top of their real-world surroundings. Whereas VR locks learners into a virtual “box,” MR enables clear visibility and awareness of physical surroundings. This allows learners to move freely without fear of physical collisions and safety so they can fully focus on learning key gastrointestinal treatment, diagnostic, and communication skills with peers and instructors.

“In healthcare, educators are not only trying to help learners master and retain vital knowledge, but recall and apply it when a patient’s life may be at risk,” said Dr. Gao Yujia, MBBS (S’Pore), MRCS, FRCSEd, Consultant and Assistant Group Chief Technology Officer at Singapore’s National University Health System, and Vice Chairman of The Holomedicine® Association. “With HoloScenarios: Gastrointestinal, learners will have the ability to not only visualize the presentation of a given disease in 3D but better understand how to apply key learnings in the clinical context and within team environments.” Dr Gao is also the Director of Undergraduate Medical Education for Surgery at NUS Medicine.

With scenarios across gastrointestinal pathologies that include gastrointestinal bleeding, intestinal obstruction, and chronic liver failure, learners can master complex and potentially critical situations. They can learn, for example, how to stabilize patients who are dehydrated, bleeding, or septic, as well as the types of diagnostic procedures that may then be required to get a definitive diagnosis. Using mixed reality headsets or any Android, iOS smartphone or tablet, learners can access HoloScenearios: Gastrointestinal from anywhere for remotely distributed, yet highly immersive simulation.

“Immersive technology has accelerated the sharing of expertise for teaching, training, and simulation. Mixed reality, with its natural propensity to facilitate hyperrealistic, safe, and collaborative learning, continues to accelerate both the quality and scale of training outcomes,” said Jared Mermey, CEO of GigXR. “We are immensely proud to partner with NUS Medicine which has been at the forefront of adopting mixed reality in both clinical and educational use cases. By bringing their esteemed expertise onto our platform with the co-creation of HoloScenarios’ newest module, we believe clinical breakthroughs in diagnosing and treating gastrointestinal diseases will take a giant leap forward.”

Designed specifically for pedagogy, the Gig Immersive Learning Platform is trusted by over 70 enterprise-scale healthcare institutions across four continents to build full immersive curricula utilizing a robust content catalog – all of which is managed from a single dashboard. Third-party content developed by leading 3D medical partners, including DICOM Director, 3D4Medical by Elsevier, and ANIMA RES, seamlessly integrates with the platform to provide complementary, in-depth anatomy applications that empower learners with a broader physical context for the pathologies that they study.

“The Gig Immersive Learning Platform has quickly become the premier educational, social network for sharing healthcare training expertise in the immersive format, spanning global healthcare institutions and the Department of Defense to content developers and enterprises large and small,” said David King Lassman, Founder of GigXR. “HoloScenarios: Gastrointestinal marks the latest milestone in our rapidly expanding catalog, which now boasts a dozen different licensable training modules that span holographic simulated patients, clinical scenarios, anatomy, pathophysiology, and 3D medical imaging.”

NUS joins the University of Cambridge and Cambridge University Hospitals (CUH) NHS Foundation Trust, University of Michigan, and Morlen Health, a subsidiary of Northwest Permanente, P.C., as the world-class institutions partnering with GigXR to co-create holographic healthcare training. These simulations include modules centered around Respiratory diseases, Basic Life Support, Advanced Cardiac Life Support, Neurology scenarios, and now, with NUS, Gastrointestinal diseases.

GigXR and NUS Medicine plan to launch HoloScenarios: Gastro in Spring 2024. For more information on GigXR, visit or email For more information on NUS, visit

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Public support for extending the 14-day rule on human embryo research indicated by foundational dialogue project

The findings of a foundational UK public dialogue on human embryo research are published today, Wednesday 25th October 2023, as part of the Wellcome-funded…



The findings of a foundational UK public dialogue on human embryo research are published today, Wednesday 25th October 2023, as part of the Wellcome-funded Human Developmental Biology Initiative (HDBI). The HDBI is an ambitious scientific endeavour to advance our understanding of human development. The dialogue project, which was co-funded by UKRI Sciencewise programme, engaged a diverse group of the public to consider how early human embryo research can be used to its fullest, the 14-day rule and the fast-paced field of stem cell-based embryo models.

Credit: Dr Matteo Molè (Babraham Institute)

The findings of a foundational UK public dialogue on human embryo research are published today, Wednesday 25th October 2023, as part of the Wellcome-funded Human Developmental Biology Initiative (HDBI). The HDBI is an ambitious scientific endeavour to advance our understanding of human development. The dialogue project, which was co-funded by UKRI Sciencewise programme, engaged a diverse group of the public to consider how early human embryo research can be used to its fullest, the 14-day rule and the fast-paced field of stem cell-based embryo models.

Headline findings include:

  • Appetite for review of the 14-day rule: Participants recognised that extending the 14-day rule could open up ways to achieve benefits in fertility and health, with participant support for reviewing this, including national discussion.
  • Confidence in regulation: There was a high level of confidence in how human embryo research is regulated, despite a low level of awareness of the regulators and statutes themselves. This included strong desire to see robust regulation governing any changes to the 14-day rule and further regulation for the use of stem cell-based embryo models.
  • Support for improved fertility and health outcomes: The strongest hopes for future human embryo research were where new knowledge would deliver improvements in understanding miscarriage, preventing health conditions such as spina bifida and raising the success rates of IVF procedures.
  • Concerns about genetically engineering humans: The public expressed concerns on the application of developments in this field to genetically alter or engineer humans.

The dialogue engaged a group of 70 people broadly reflective of the UK population in over 15 hours of activities including a series of online and face-to-face workshops with scientists, ethicists, philosophers, policy makers and people with relevant lived experience (such as embryo donors from IVF procedures).

Dr Peter Rugg-Gunn, scientific lead for the HDBI and senior group leader at the Babraham Institute, said: “Recent scientific advances bring incredible new opportunities to study and understand the earliest stages of human development. To ensure this research remains aligned with society’s values and expectations, we must listen and respond to public desires and concerns. This public dialogue is an important first step and as a scientist I am reassured by the findings but there is still a long way to go to fully understand this complex issue.” 

The report is exceedingly timely, following notable scientific advances in human developmental biology presented at conferences and in leading scientific journals in recent months. As well as generating excitement in scientific fields and with the public, announcement of these breakthroughs also prompted some concerns and criticisms, with the view that these findings raised significant ethical issues. The dialogue provides insight into public considerations following deliberation on early human embryo research. The hope is that it will act as a foundational reference point that others in the sectors can build upon, such as in any future review of the law on embryo research.

Professor Robin Lovell-Badge, co-chair of the HDBI Oversight group, senior group leader and head of the Laboratory of Stem Cell Biology and Developmental Genetics at the Francis Crick Institute, said: “We have learnt a lot about human development before 14 days, but there are areas of investigation that could change how we understand development, and associated diseases, that lie beyond our current window of knowledge. Despite low awareness of current laws, members of the public quickly recognised many of the critical issues researchers are keenly aware of when it comes to growing embryos beyond the current limit. This dialogue also reinforced the fact that the public are in support of research that will yield better health outcomes, and in this case, increase the success of IVF procedures.

Other countries will be looking to the UK to see how we deal with the 14-day rule; we are not there yet with any mandate to make a change, but this does give a strong pointer. The next step will be to delve deeper into some of the topics raised through this dialogue as they apply to specific areas of research, as well as feeding into policy changes.”

The 14-day rule and the regulation of stem cell-based models

When considering the regulation of research involving human embryos, the dialogue explored participant’s views on the 14-day rule. Introduced in 1990, the 14-day rule is a limit enforced by statute in the UK. It applies to early human embryos that are donated by consent to research and embryos that are created for research from donated sperm and eggs. It limits the amount of time early human embryos can be developed in a laboratory for scientific study to 14 days after fertilisation. Due to technical advances, it is now possible to grow embryos in the lab past 14 days, but researchers are not allowed to by the law. If the law changed, it would open up this ‘black box’ of development with researchers able to investigate this crucial time in development from 14-28 days after fertilisation.

Professor Bobbie Farsides, co-chair of the HDBI Oversight group and Professor of Clinical and Biomedical Ethics at the Brighton and Sussex Medical School, said: “It has been a fascinating experience to support HDBI in the undertaking of this exercise.  I commend the participants for the care and mutual respect they have shown throughout. Their engagement and commitment to a subject few of them had previously considered allowed for a wide range of views to be expressed and considered. I hope the scientists involved will be encouraged by the high level of interest in their work, and will want to keep the public conversation going around these important subjects.”

The dialogue included participant discussion on what a change to the 14-day rule might look like, and identified points that should be considered, such as defining what the benefits of extending the rule would be and potential mis-alignment with human embryo research regulations in other countries.

Participants acknowledged the astonishing possibilities of stem cell-based embryo models. The majority of participants would like to see these models further regulated. Work in establishing potential governance mechanisms is already underway. In recognition of the need for additional guidance and regulation in this area, the Cambridge Reproduction initiative launched a project in March 2023 to develop a governance framework for research using stem cell-based embryo models and to promote responsible, transparent and accountable research.

Future steps

A key outcome from the public dialogue is the identification of areas for further exploration, with participants proposing how future national conversations might be shaped. It is hoped that the project acts as a reference base for both widening engagement with the subject and also prompting deeper exploration of areas of concern.

Dr Michael Norman, HDBI Public Dialogue coordinator and Public Engagement Manager at the Babraham Institute, said: “This dialogue shows that people want the public to work closely with scientists and the government to shape both future embryo research legislation and scientific research direction. It is crucial that others in the sector build on these high quality, two-way engagement methodologies that allow for a genuine exchange of views and information to ensure that the public’s desires and concerns are listened to and respected. Transparency and openness around science is vital for public trust and through this we, as a society, can shape UK research in way that enriches the outcomes for all.”

Public Participant (Broad public group, south) said: “I do think that an extension of this public dialogue, and educating a wider society has a benefit in itself. This is really complex and sensitive and the wider you talk about it before decisions are made, the better.”

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