The interdisciplinary research platform “Life-Science-Governance” (LSG) will address the interrelated topics of governance through and of the life sciences. The Max F. Perutz Laboratories, a joint venture of the University of Vienna and the Medical University of Vienna, together with other research institutions at the Vienna Biocenter are the leading biological research cluster in Austria, and one of the most renowned in Europe. The research platform will establish interdisciplinary research cooperation between the university institutes at the Vienna Biocenter, and a group of researchers in the Social Sciences Faculty of the University of Vienna to jointly address current challenges of “Life Science Governance”.

During the last decades the life sciences have become a core field of contemporary governance. Many expectations and hopes are connected with biotechnology, bio-medicine, molecular biology and genomics as paving the way for the economic and social development and well being of the future. World-wide, governments, universities, and industries invest heavily in the life sciences under the assumption that new industries might develop, new modes of health care might take shape, or that questions relating to securing food supplies might be addressed more efficiently than in the past. It is articulated in a broad variety of fields ranging from pharmacogenomics and the idea of personalized medicine to the development of genetically modified plants. In short, the life sciences have become an important mode and instrument of governance. Research and development in the life sciences seem to help address major challenges for governance, such as economic growth or the maintenance of public health. Governance through advances in the life sciences has become a key feature of today’s industrialized countries.
At the same time, there are many social, ethical, legal, economic, and regulatory issues that surround the introduction and utilization of the science and technologies of modern biology. Until recently, politics, science as well as the educational system could rely on the trust and confidence that people collectively stored in or derived from the social institutions. Today, in a variety of fields from politics to science we witness an erosion of social trust. Trust be it in politics or in science, cannot be any longer assumed in particular where life sciences and the application of their achievements are concerned. The successful introduction of new technologies or approaches from genetically modified food to stem cell research now requires explicit or implicit informed consent from major stakeholders and publics. In short, the governance of life sciences has become a key issue for the future development of the life sciences.
More news about upcoming activities of LSG soon!