HKU Presidents Forum

Professor Dame Carol Black

How Can Science and Social Science Influence Society?

Dame Carol will draw upon her long career to give examples of how evidence and science can influence government policy for societal good.

Systemic sclerosis is a complex chronic disease with the highest mortality of any rheumatic condition, with an enormous clinical burden. Based on scientific progress it is now envisioned as a disorder of dysregulated connective tissue and vascular repair in response to sustained injury – and mortality and morbidity have been much reduced in recent decades.

A different but equally challenging problem is the health of Britain’s population of working age. Three independent evidence-based reviews for the UK Government, on the inter-relationship of work, health and productivity, have had a major effect on government policy, creating a compelling case for decisive action to deliver improved prosperity to individuals, employers and the nation.

Finally, a fourth independent review for the Government, this one on illicit drugs (demand, supply, treatment and recovery) has gathered evidence that led the government to allocate almost £800 million over three years to implement a new 10- year strategy to bring about a whole-system cross-government change towards collaborative working, with clear potential for a safer society, fewer homicides, reduction in serious acquisitive crime, and fewer drug-dependent people in prison.