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La ciencia se mueve – la importancia de la movilidad internacional en la investigación

Science Moves – the Importance of International Mobility for Research

I attended a reception on the importance of international mobility for medical research at the Houses of Parliament in Westminster

On 5 June, I attended a reception on the importance of international mobility for medical research at the Houses of Parliament in Westminster (United Kingdom). Attendees included the Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, MPs, Lords and senior civil servants. The aim of the event was to give Parliamentarians insight into the importance of international mobility for medical research and researchers.

I was invited (...) to share my story about how moving between countries has supported my career and why these opportunities are so important for research and a career in science

I was invited, along with several other researchers, by the Academy of Medical Sciences, to share my story about how moving between countries has supported my career and why these opportunities are so important for research and a career in science. The Academy were familiar with my work following my participation in the SUSTAIN leadership programme for women scientists.

The event was designed to showcase the importance of international mobility for medical research, introduce politicians to the ‘people behind the science’, emphasise the necessity of collaboration, and express the importance of easy movement to facilitate this. There were a series of stands called ‘Moving for work’, ‘Exchanging ideas’ and ‘Developing skills’. Based on my experience I was invited to talk about the theme ‘Moving for work’.

There was also a stand from Together Science Can, a global campaign to celebrate the power of international collaboration. The event started with informal discussion among scientists and parliamentarians. At my stand, I had the chance to meet and discuss my work with several MPs, Peers and other researchers, working in diverse research fields, from neuroscience to malaria, with experience working in labs across the globe.

Often, it is not always about attracting research leaders, it’s about students, early career researchers, technicians and, importantly, their families

These discussion were followed by keynote speeches from the science Minister and two inspiring women leaders, Professor Anne Barton from the Arthritis Research UK Centre for Genetics and Genomics, who chairs a European-wide collaboration on Psoriatic Arthritis, and Dr Lori Passmore, originally from Canada, who established her multi-national group at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge. Speeches highlighted the importance of mobility for the rapid exchange of ideas and skills across borders, which have allowed us to make progress in cutting-edge areas of research. Often, it is not always about attracting research leaders, it’s about students, early career researchers, technicians and, importantly, their families.

It was encouraging to hear Chris Green MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Medical Research, speak about how vital international mobility is to maintaining UK as a world leader in medical research and innovation and to appreciate that these messages will be presented in the forthcoming immigration bill debate.

Interacting with MPs is completely different as they are not necessarily familiar with your research area and they have extremely tight schedules

It was a real eye opener engaging with politicians. I have had some experience in public engagement (e.g. I recently spoke at the Royal Society platform: The Next Big Things, at the Hay Festival). However, interacting with MPs is completely different as they are not necessarily familiar with your research area and they have extremely tight schedules. You have to communicate your take home message in very short space of time and hope your story will make an impression, as it is competing with all the other day-to-day issues MPs are faced with. I hope that this session will have an impact on how a future immigration system will work, creating a system that allows the UK to continue to attract global scientific talent, including PhD students, early career researchers, leaders in the field, technicians - and their families - from across the world.

More information

UK-based researchers for whom international mobility has played a key part in their research careers



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Rachel Lowe

Visiting Scholar

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