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Lisa Jardine to step down as chair of fertility regulator

28 October 2013
Appeared in BioNews 728

Professor Lisa Jardine has announced that she is due to step down as chair of the UK's fertility and embryo research regulator, the HFEA, in January 2014.

Jardine, who is Professor of Renaissance Studies at University College London as well as a wide-ranging writer and broadcaster, was appointed as chair of the regulator in 2008. She confirmed her imminent departure from the post in her latest contribution to the BBC Radio 4 programme A Point of View, and in an accompanying article on the BBC News website. 'My personal mission when I took up the post was...public engagement - disseminating as widely as possible both the benefits and disadvantages of all aspects of assisted reproduction', she said. 'This proved to be unexpectedly difficult to do'.

After paying tribute to the 'clear-headedness and keen intellect' of Baroness Mary Warnock, chair of the committee whose 1984 report led to the creation of the HFEA, Professor Jardine spoke of the high cost and 'discouragingly low' success rate of IVF. She said: 'I would have loved to have been able to have spoken more often and more publicly, with more words of caution for those proposing to undertake IVF, or postponing their family because IVF seems a reliable option should natural conception fail'. These remarks were welcomed by the charity Infertility Network UK, which said: 'No one starts out having treatment thinking that it won't work, but sometimes a lack of understanding of the "real" success rates can lead to crushing disappointment'.

On a more positive note, Professor Jardine drew attention to the HFEA's recent public consultation on techniques to avoid the transmission of mitochondrial disease as a high point of her tenure. In the HFEA's own statement confirming her departure, Professor Jardine said: 'I am particularly honoured to have overseen the Medical Frontiers: Debating Mitochondria Replacement public consultation. It clearly demonstrated the specialised ability the HFEA has to engage, educate and communicate complex science and public opinion'.

Fertility chief calls for clarity on IVF pros and cons
BBC News |  25 October 2013
IVF and the marketing of hope
BBC News |  25 October 2013
Point of View: Reflections on IVF
BBC Radio 4 |  25 October 2013
Professor Lisa Jardine to step down as Chair of the HFEA
Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority |  26 October 2013
7 April 2014 - by Antony Starza-Allen 
The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority and the Human Tissue Authority have both announced new appointments as their Chair....
3 March 2014 - by Peter Thompson 
IVF in the UK is thriving. But is it as good as it could be? We at the HFEA want to think about how we can get the best out of the IVF sector in the UK...
16 December 2013 - by Antony Starza-Allen 
The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority has announced the appointment of Sally Cheshire as its interim chair when Professor Lisa Jardine's term as chair comes to an end in January 2014....
25 November 2013 - by Professor Lisa Jardine 
In stark contrast to reports in the media, the need to reduce the incidence of multiple births following IVF remains, and the policy still stands...
15 November 2013 - by Antony Starza-Allen 
The UK's High Court has ruled against the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority saying its actions towards two clinics over a licence condition to impose a maximum multiple birth rate were unlawful. The HFEA has now decided to withdraw the condition from all UK fertility clinics' licences...
21 March 2013 - by Sandy Starr 
Mitochondrial replacement therapy, where a small amount of a mother's genetic material is swapped with material from a donor during IVF to avoid passing on heritable illnesses, enjoys the 'general support' of the public, the UK's fertility regulator says...
28 January 2013 - by Dr Louisa Petchey 
The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) and Human Tissue Authority (HTA) have been spared the 'bonfire of the quangos' it was announced on Friday, but will be subject to an independent review to improve efficiency...
24 September 2012 - by Cait McDonagh 
'Quangoing, going, gone', a debate organised by the Progress Educational Trust and the Anne McLaren Memorial Fund highlighted the diverse viewpoints on just what should happen to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority as the government seeks to streamline health regulation...
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