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Dr Norma Morris
22 Gordon Square
Tel: 020 7679 3703
Dr Norma Morris profile picture
  • Honorary Research Associate
  • Dept of Science & Technology Studies
  • Faculty of Maths & Physical Sciences

I have worked as a Research Fellow or Honorary Research Associate in the STS Department at UCL since the late 1990s, on the basis of funding my salary  from successful grant applications.  Prior to that I worked  for the UK Medical Research Council for many years, latterly as executive  director where I had extensive managerial and science policy responsibilities.  I was granted the doctorate of the University of Twente in 2004 for work on the responses of UK scientists in the life sciences to changes in science policy.

 In addition to my academic studies I took on the Chairmanship of the newly established statutory regulatory body for one of the complementary medicine professions in 1998, and subsequently a similar role on the educational standards board of another branch of complementary medicine still seeking recognition, namely acupuncture.  I was also until November 2014 a director and member of the Governing Board of the Campaign for Science and Engineering.

Research Summary

My research interests include the effects of shifts in research governance on the working lives of biomedical scientists in universities, and issues around the role and contribution of volunteer research subjects in biomedical experiments in laboratory and hospital settings.

Current research includes a project in collaboration with Dr Susan Kerrison (Joint UCL/UCLH Biomedical Research Unit), which studies the microlevel dynamics of patient recruitment to clinical studies.  We are looking at both process and experience of recruitment and research participation from both the professionals and the patients point of view.  The aim is to improve understanding  of how patients come to participate in research , or fail to do so - a topic of significant interest for NHS hospital, managers as well as a matter of concern to patient groups. We have funding from NIHR to carry out this work.

Prior to this I was Principal Investigator in 3 related  ESRC-funded studies of the role and contribution of volunteers in biomedical research, with special reference to patient input into development of new health technologies. This work was done in collaboration with a group in the UCL Department of Medical Physics and Bioengineering,  and  focused on the dynamics of the interactions between researchers and 'research participants' who were assisting as test subjects in the development of a new system for optical imaging of the breast.  A particular interest has been to assess the scope for enlarging the participants’ contribution beyond being ‘just bodies’ and the  potential  benefits for participants (in terms of satisfaction and self-respect) and for researchers in terms of research outcomes.   As a follow-up to this research  we held a Workshop attended  by patients, research participants, patients groups, government departments, ethics bodies, charities and academics to discuss these and cognate findings and identify priorities for action to encourage  their translation  into policy and practice.  Currently, and in collaboration with other members of the STS Department,  I am exploring some anomalies with regard to the neglect of clinical research with human subjects as a site of public engagement.

I maintain an interest incience policy studies on the impact of external stakeholders' policies on biomedical research , which have so far focused on:
•    Researchers’ strategies to manage the effects of policy pressures
•    the development of the role of the department as an intermediary body
•    structural problems highlighted by stakeholder policies
•    application of principal-agent theory to the situation of the modern academic.

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