May 30 to June 1, 2012, the Faculty of Law's Health Law and Science Policy Group (HeaLS) hosted the successful event <I>Using and Abusing Evidence in Science and Health Policy</I> in Banff, Alberta.

Katherine Thompson - 14 June 2012

From May 30 through June 1, 2012, the Faculty of Law's Health Law and Science Policy Group (HeaLS), led by Research Director Timothy Caulfield, hosted Using and Abusing Evidence in Science and Health Policy in beautiful Banff, Alberta, an event that was an overwhelming success.

Attended by over 75 participants from a wide variety of institutions, organizations and agencies, delegates explored how evidence -- which was broadly defined -- is used in a variety of health and science policy domains, including those related to asthma research, stem cell research, genetics research, and obesity research. Specifically participants considered: 1) the ways in which evidence is represented (or misrepresented) in a variety of laws, policies and regulations, in addition to the popular press; 2) areas where there is a clear or possible disconnect between existing evidence and adopted or proposed policies; 3) challenges and barriers to the use of evidence in policy making; and 4) the policy making circumstances that require sound evidence and those that allow for a degree of evidentially uncertainty.

In true HeaLS fashion, the event was extremely interdisciplinary, bringing together an international mix of scholars from a wide range of backgrounds, including law, medicine, ethics, genetics, fine arts, communications, and sociology, among many others. The exceptional presentations given lead to many dynamic and engaging discussions, which extended beyond the meeting room floor, providing participants fresh perspectives and opportunities to build collaborations with new (and perhaps surprising) colleagues. A unique journal paper series, resulting from this event is currently in the works, and will be published by Bio Medical Central (BMC) this summer. Once available, the link will be posted on the team's website (www.heals.ualberta), alongside the existing program.

Last, but certainly not least, this event was generously supported by numerous organizations. The HeaLS group would specifically like to thank: the Allergy, Genes and Environment Network (AllerGen), the Stem Cell Network, Alberta Innovates: Health Solutions, the Alberta Cancer Foundation, the Archon Genomics X-Prize, the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation: Prairies Chapter, the Cancer Stem Cell Consortium, Genome Alberta, the Secretariat on Responsible Conduct of Research, and the University of Alberta's Faculty of Law and Killam fund.