Professor visits Westminster to discuss effects of psychoactive substances

Professor Jolanta Opacka-Juffry will work with a senior official from the Home Office, to help educate society on the risks of novel psychoactive substances (NPS), previously referred to as 'legal highs'.

Posted: 28 November 2016

Jolanta Opacka-Juffry, Professor of Neuroscience in the Department of Life Sciences at the University of Roehampton, has been selected by the Royal Society to take part in its competitive pairing scheme which aims to build bridges between Parliamentarians, civil servants and some of the best scientists in the UK.

The scheme will give Professor Opacka-Juffry the opportunity to discuss her research into novel psychoactive substances (NPS) with civil servants, to raise awareness of the associated health risks of these substances and to help develop evidence-based policy. Professor Opacka-Juffry and her group's research includes work on substances such as benzofurans, which have addictive potential that their users might not realise.

The visit will provide Professor Opacka-Juffry with an insight into how policy is formed and how research is used to support evidence-based decisions. It will also give civil servants an opportunity to investigate the science behind her decisions and improve access to scientific evidence.

The week will begin with a reception in parliament, where Professor Brian Cox OBE, FRS, will explain why policy makers and researchers must work together to ensure the UK's excellent science is used to improve people's lives and tackle global challenges. During the week Professor Opacka-Juffry will be invited to attend seminars and panel discussions about how evidence is used in policy making.

Professor Opacka-Juffry praised the opportunity to take part in the scheme saying, "This is a fantastic scheme to be a part of, as I'm interested in better understanding the capacity of central and local governments to tackle the issues of drug use and how they can use academic research to help them do this.

"In particular, we need to be proactive and preventative in raising awareness of psychoactive substances and improve public understanding of drugs misuse."

Find out more information about Life Sciences at the University of Roehampton here.

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