Welsh Government – Gene Editing Placement – deadline: 20 January 2023

Name Welsh Government
Department Plant Health policy team
Placement base location

The role will be full-time and is normally based with the policy team in one of Welsh Government’s regional offices. In view of current Covid-19 restrictions, the post-holder will likely be required to work from home, however, office working may be permissible and individual circumstances can be discussed. This is in-line with working arrangements for all Welsh Government employees.

Post-holders will be provided with a laptop to facilitate regular contact with the policy team members and line management, other policy teams and external partners. Due to the remote nature of working, the policy team will ensure that the post-holder is fully supported during the placement and will endeavour to ensure that the placement is as close to the in-team office-based experience as possible.

Website www.gov.wales
Contact for enquiries Caroline Fallone (Research & Academic Engagement Manager)
Contact details Email: ResearchPlacements@gov.wales
Placement job title PhD student placement – “Gene editing – scientific analysis”
Potential start date ASAP – start date will be agreed following successful Welsh Government security clearance.
Potential working pattern

Daily work pattern: 9am to 5pm

Total hours per week: 35

FT/PT: Full time

Details of application method

Please submit CV and covering letter to Caroline Fallone.

NOTE: All applicants must confirm that they have received authorisation to take an interruption of studies from their academic supervisor

We welcome receiving correspondence in Welsh. Any correspondence received in Welsh will be answered in Welsh and corresponding in Welsh will not lead to a delay in responding.

If you have an impairment or health condition, or use British Sign Language and need to discuss reasonable adjustments for any part of the placement programme, or wish to discuss how we will support you if you are to be successful, please contact ResearchPlacements@gov.wales as soon as possible to discuss your requirements and any questions you may have.

Overview of PIPS organisation
The Welsh Government (WG) Plant Health team is seeking a PhD student for a placement opportunity to support the work of the Gene Editing policy team through involvement in developing the evidence base of this important and fast-moving policy area.
Placement offered

Background

This project aims to review and synthesise the evidence base for the benefits of and risks with gene editing technologies. Given recent policy developments in England and the EU, the Welsh Government believes a review of the evidence underpinning our current precautionary approach to gene editing is warranted. To that end, the Welsh Government would like to analyse the existing scientific evidence on gene editing in plants, and potentially animals, particularly focussing on the safety of the technology, traceability of organisms and products created using it and its environmental impacts, this may also be expanded to consider issues around animal health and welfare. This research will be undertaken in the context of gene editing technology being used to develop gene edited plants, crops and trees, and also in the production of gene edited food.

As a minimum we would envisage a review of the relevant scientific evidence to be undertaken, and production of a report providing evidence-based answers to a series of policy questions. Time permitting, the project could also include a review of the existing research on consumer perceptions of gene editing and consideration of the benefits and costs gene editing technology may present for Wales, including its businesses and consumers, and whether it could help achieve wider Government policy aims around food security, climate change and biosecurity. This project will enable the post holder to familiarise themselves with The Green Book1, the guidance issued by HM Treasury on how to appraise policies, programmes, and projects in the public sector. The project would use the guidance to help produce valuation of Costs and Benefits, especially any non-market valuation and unmonetisable values. In addition, there will be opportunity for the student to be involved in broader policy work, including development of wider policy documents and broader evidence analysis and translation. There may also be scope for them to analyse international policy developments.

Minimum anticipated project outcomes:

A review of the evidence base around gene editing, including a balanced and objective view assessment of the risks and benefits associated with the technology. A report which would include the following:

  • A review of the evidence base
  • A summary of the potential risks and possible benefits of the technology
  • An assessment of whether these risks pose any greater concern than traditional breeding methods or food treatment processes, whether the risks are uniform across all organisms which may be bred using these techniques and how these risks compare to the possible benefits.

A presentation to analytical colleagues and policy officials on the findings

The evidence review may also be expanded to consider issues around animal health and welfare.

Key Skills

  • Experience in conducting literature reviews/evidence synthesis
  • Strong analysis skills including experience of working with qualitative data
  • The ability to produce concise, well written documents presenting technical material in an accessible format
  • The ability to synthesise and interpret evidence to provide answers to certain research and policy questions

The successful candidate will benefit from development opportunities offered centrally by the Welsh Government, potentially including mentoring, shadowing, peer support and training.
Students will benefit from the experience of working closely with the Welsh Government:

  • Gaining a better understanding of the world outside of academia and increasing employability, using their knowledge and skills to contribute to the work of the Welsh Government.
  • The student’s colleagues at the Welsh Government can offer an insight into their PhD project that can contribute to the success of their thesis’, as well as networking opportunities within the policy arena linked to their research area
  • Transferable skills and knowledge
  • Time management skills
  • Report writing skills
  • Influencing and presentation and communication of science.

The post-holder will work in an interesting and diverse team. The post-holder will be expected to work independently within parameters and guidelines provided by the Welsh Government. Working closely with a wide range of colleagues the successful candidate will build valuable working relationships, broaden their knowledge of public policy-making and enhance their existing transferable skills.

This is an interesting and diverse role, working on a high-profile policy area in the Welsh Government, allowing the student to gain a broad knowledge and understanding of Welsh Government policy work. With support from their Welsh Government supervisor, the student will be expected to take responsibility for managing and delivering work commitments during the placement period.

Financial contribution/benefit(s)
Post-holders will be provided with a laptop to facilitate regular contact with the policy team members and line management, other policy teams and external partners.  Due to the remote nature of working, the policy team will ensure that the post-holder is fully supported during the placement and will endeavour to ensure that the placement is as close to the in-team office-based experience as possible.