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BioNews needs your help

28 February 2005
By Laura Riley
Director, Progress Educational Trust
Appeared in BioNews 297
BioNews will be six years old next month. It started out in 1999, as an experimental weekly email sent to a handful of interested people. Now, BioNews provides news and comment in human genetics and assisted reproduction to thousands of readers around the world, both via the weekly email, and the daily-updated website. The BioNews service was the brainchild of Juliet Tizzard, the first director of Progress Educational Trust - the UK charity that publishes BioNews. In the very first BioNews commentary, she wrote that 'the delivery of good, accurate and timely information from a trusted source is the first step to enhancing the public - and professional - understanding of reproductive and genetic science'. We still firmly adhere to that aim.

But as well as providing information, BioNews also seeks to facilitate debate on the issues raised by human genetics and assisted reproduction, by publishing commentaries written both in-house and by invited experts. Last year, we sent out a survey to find out if BioNews' mixture of in-depth news reporting and thought-provoking comment is meeting your needs. The answer was a resounding 'yes' - the vast majority of you think that BioNews is a unique and very valuable resource. Thank you to everyone who responded, and for all your helpful comments and suggestions.

We also asked if you would be prepared to make an annual donation to help us keep BioNews freely available. Again, many of you kindly said that you would - so today we're launching the first BioNews annual appeal.

Why do we need your help?

As a BioNews reader, you'll probably already know that BioNews stories are drawn from a wide range of print and electronic sources every day, and published on the website straight away. What you may not know is how BioNews is put together, week-in, week-out. Dr Kirsty Horsey and Dr Jess Buxton, the BioNews Reproduction and Genetics Editors, write BioNews in the office of its small parent charity, Progress Educational Trust (PET). They go through the UK national papers every day, trawl the web for international news, read all the relevant weekly and monthly scientific and academic journals, liase with invited experts writing BioNews Commentaries, select the best of the upcoming events, further reading, radio and TV programmes, and also find the time to attend conferences, debates and press conferences to identify the week's key stories - so you don't have to!

BioNews' editors have total editorial control of its content. In producing the news they are bound only by honest reporting and scientific accuracy. We want to retain BioNews as a completely free service for you and others to access. But all this costs money. BioNews is entirely dependent on voluntary donations and sponsorship, and we are extremely grateful to AstraZeneca for their continued support. We are passionately committed to continuing the existing free service, but to do so we need your help - now! So, if you find BioNews useful, please show your appreciation. BioNews still needs to raise £25,000 this year, and there are four ways in which you could help us:

1. You can donate to BioNews using your credit or debit card. Or, if you prefer, you can send a cheque, payable to Progress Educational Trust, to BioNews at Progress Educational Trust, 140 Gray's Inn Road, London, WC1X 8AX. Please mark your donation with 'BioNews Appeal'. If you're wondering how much to donate, you might like to consider that a similar commercial service would probably cost at least £100 per year - but all contributions are welcome.  

2. If your organisation is interested in co-sponsoring BioNews, please email me at for further details.

3. PET has been informing the public and facilitating balanced debate on the ethical, legal and social issues raised by human genetics and assisted reproduction since 1992. We achieve these aims through producing BioNews, running public debates and conferences, writing publications and putting on workshops and lectures for everyone from primary school students to health care professionals. If you support our aims then please help by becoming a Friend.

4. If you are unable to help us financially, then you can still help us by encouraging your friends and colleagues to subscribe to BioNews - or, if you're not already a subscriber, then you can get your own free copy by filling out the sign-up form on our website. The more subscribers we have, the easier it is for us to attract sponsors!

With your help, we hope that we will be able to continue to provide the BioNews web and email service for many years to come. Thank you once again for your support.

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