From Backbench to Lab bench at the University of Glasgow

Ann McKechin MP will be swapping legislation for a lab coat when she visits Professor Mandy MacLean at the University of Glasgow (21st December) as part of a unique pairing scheme run by the Royal Society – the UK national academy of science.

During her visit, Ms McKechin who is MP for Glasgow North, will spend time in Professor MacLean’s laboratory, meet her research group and hear about ‘life at the bench’.  Professor MacLean is an award winning scientist who studies a disease called pulmonary hypertension or high blood pressure in the lungs.  This affects women more than men and Professor MacLean’s group are investigating why this is the case.

Ann McKechin MP said “I always enjoy taking part in the exchanges – science and technology is a significant employer in my constituency and I find it valuable to keep up to date with the latest developments. For my part, I hope I offer a greater understanding of the current activities in Parliament that could impact on the industry. It is a mutually beneficial programme which I look forward to each year.”

Professor MacLean has already spent a week in the Houses of Parliament as part of the pairing scheme’s ‘Westminster Week’.  This provided Professor MacLean with a ‘behind the scenes’ insight into how science policy is formed as well as an understanding of the working life of an MP.

Professor MacLean said “I am delighted to welcome Ann into my laboratory to meet my research staff.  We will discuss life as a scientist and the challenges we encounter.”

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 180 pairs of scientists and MPs have taken part in the scheme since it was launched in 2001.

Sir Paul Nurse, President of the Royal Society said “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 how organised over one hundred and eighty 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.

Notes to editors

The Royal Society is the UK’s national academy of science.  Founded in 1660, the Society has three roles, as a provider of independent scientific advice, as a learned Society and as a funding agency.  Our expertise is embodied in the Fellowship, which is made up of the finest scientists from the UK and beyond.  Our goals are to:

•           Invest in future scientific leaders and in innovation

•           Influence policymakers with the best scientific advice

•           Invigorate science and mathematics education

•           Increase access to the best science internationally

•           Inspire an interest in the joy, wonder and excitement of scientific discovery

For more information contact Cara MacDowall in the University of Glasgow Media Relations Office on 0141 330 3535; 07875 203387 or email

For more information about the Royal Society contact Alison Henchley or Bill Harnett, Press and Public Relations on 020 7451 2514.

First published: 20 December 2011