Healthy Futures: Medical Regulation and Human Agency

22 January 2010



For further videos from this event, please click on the programme link on the right and then click on the speakers' names within the programme.


Professor David Spiegelhalter
Dr Tim Lewens 

Regulatory agencies routinely make cost-benefit analyses of new medical products and treatments. Yet there is little agreement on how such analyses ought to be performed, and utilitarian paradigms are seldom applied in other areas of medical decision-making. Envisaging futures is also an integral part of planning health care (e.g. the ‘obesity epidemic’ or pandemic influenza). Predictions based on bio-statistical data-analysis are underpinned by numerous assumptions. How can we quantify medical uncertainties, and how should they impact on policy?


Programme and Registration 
The event will begin with a lecture on the evening of Thursday 21 January  followed by a day long seminar on Friday 22 January.  Please click on the link at the right hand side of the page to see a provisional programme. The lecture is free to attend and registration is not required. To book online for the seminar please click on the Online Registration link.  The deadline for booking is 16 January 2010.



This is the second in the series of  Sawyer Seminars sponsored by the Andrew W Mellon Foundation, Modelling Futures: Understanding Risk and Uncertainty 2009-2010.

For administrative enquiries please contact


Location : Mill Lane Lecture Room 1 and CRASSH

Thursday 21 January

Mill Lane Lecture Room 1


Balancing the Evidence: The Role of Judgement in Health Policy Decisions
Sir Michael Rawlins (National Institute of Health & Clinical Excellence)

Discussant:  Professor Sheila Bird (MRC Biostatistics Unit, Cambridge)

Chair: David Spiegelhalter  (University of Cambridge)

Friday 22 January  

CRASSH, 17 Mill Lane




Welcome and introduction by Dr Tim Lewens


Drug Regulation

Key Challenges of Pharmaceutical Development, Regulation and Public Health
Professor John Abraham (Department of Sociology, University of Sussex)

Professor Deborah Ashby (Imperial College, London)

Chair: Dr Tim Lewens (University of Cambridge)


Tea/coffee break



Collaborative research on the spread of 2009 H1N1 pandemic influenza – the experience of the MRC Centre for Outbreak Analysis and Modelling
Professor Christl Donnelly (Imperial College, London)

How uncertain should I be?  – experiences from epidemiologic modelling
Dr Kari Auranen (Institute for Health and Welfare, University of Helsinki)

Professor John Edmunds (London School for Hygiene and Tropical Medicine)

Chair: Dr Erika Mansnerus 





When is Cost-Benefit Analysis Morally Acceptable in Health Decision Making (And What Should We Do When It Isn't)?
Professor Jonathan Wolff (University College London)

Chemical and Physical Hazards in the Environment
Professor David Coggon (Chair, Committee on Toxicity, University of Southampton). 

Discussant: Dr Stephen John (University of Cambridge) 

Chair: Dr Tim Lewens 


Tea/coffee break


Panel Discussion chaired by Professor David Spiegelhalter