1644 Meeting of Minds: The First Transnational Public Consultation on Science in Europe

Friday, February 19, 2010: 1:50 PM
Room 1B (San Diego Convention Center)
Gerrit Rauws , King Baudouin Foundation, Brussels, Belgium
Neuroscience today is on the cusp of a revolution, similar to the unraveling of the human genome in the 1990s. Yet the public debate about genetics and its broad social, ethical and moral implications far overshadows the debate thus far on neuroscience. However, proactive public engagement and discussion are needed at the outset before opinions become strongly divided. Meeting of Minds, the European Citizens’ Deliberation (ECD) on Brain Science, aimed to rectify the lack of public debate on brain research in Europe. The two-year pilot project was led by a panel of 126 randomly selected citizens from 9 countries. A partner consortium of technology assessment bodies, science museums, academic institutions and public foundations launched this initiative in 2005 with the financial support of the European Commission and the King Baudouin Foundation. The initiative gave the panel members a unique opportunity to make a personal contribution to a report that indicates to policy-makers and scientists how they might shape the course of brain science for the common good. The citizens’ report was presented in January 2006. Since then, it has fostered numerous discussions among scientists, ethicists, patient organizations and policy-makers at European level and in the Member States. Citizens demonstrated their ability to gain clear insight into a highly complicated research area and formulated recommendations that are full of substance. The transnational dialogue gave citizens an intuitive sense of issues that need to be dealt with at European level instead of at national level. Involving citizens on issues at the nexus of research and health policy (e.g. dementia, ADHD, rare diseases) has become common practice at the King Baudouin Foundation. Meeting of Minds inspired the King Baudouin Foundation to launch in October 2006 and in January 2009 even bigger public consultations on the future of the EU in 27 countries.