McWhirter Conference Student Report

mcwhirter conf

We were delighted that two of our Year 12 students gained places at the McWhirter Conference at the University of Cambridge this year.  Funded by the McWhirter Foundation, this was the second annual conference to be held at Cambridge. Connie and Hannah have written the following account of their time at Conference. - Mrs Semlyen

After two train journeys, a 40 minute walk and an extensive use of Google Maps, we finally made it to Newnham College, University of Cambridge, to attend a two day conference titled “ Bioethics: Who decides?”. Set in the beautiful grounds of the College, it involved a variety of lectures conducted by academic professors of various fields, which ranged from the ethical and social concerns established from stem cell research, to the benefits that could be derived from genetically engineering plant crops to increase the yield and alleviate food shortages around the world.

We were also introduced to debates that have arisen from pharmaceutical development and the controversies of cosmetic and reconstructive facial surgeries and the psychological effects it may cause. After each lecture, we were divided into small syndicate discussion groups where we would discuss and debate about the topics and issues that were raised throughout each lecture, which was a really great experience as it allowed us to share our own opinions and listen to those of others, as the other attendees were from all over the country at all different types of schools.

In the evening, we were invited to a traditional formal College dinner, where we were mixed up and got the chance to talk to new people, and even sit opposite the Master of Trinity College and the Principle of Newnham College, which was intimidating to say the least! The evening ended with live music in the College, before we headed back up to our rooms in the Old Hall. Just being in the grounds of the stunning and historic College was an experience. 

As aspiring medics, this conference was particularly interesting as it enabled us to meet other like-minded people who were in similar positions to us, and we were able to debate and learn more about contemporary issues which we would certainly encounter in our potential future careers. 

The conference provided a fascinating insight as to how bioethics have sparked a debate that has grasped the attention of so many medics, researchers, and academics as it has consequently influenced the development of science and its progress in the future as scientific experimentation is restrained by the conservation of ethical values.

In addition to this, it provided us with an insight as to university life, and has inspired us for when we come to make our own decisions when preparing for university and future careers. We thoroughly enjoyed the experience, and would recommend it to anyone who has the chance to go. Thank you to the McWhirter Foundation for organising the event, and Mrs Semlyen for helping us to get places. 

Connie Willett and Hannah Mathews - Year 12