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MRC Professor Ole Petersen CBE FRS

Leeds-HKU Conference: Moving Beyond Research to Engagement and Impact

Speakers and Panelists

MRC Professor Ole Petersen CBE FRS

MRC Professor Ole Petersen CBE FRS
Director of Biosciences, Cardiff University; Chairman of the UK Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 Sub-panel 5: Biological Sciences

Evaluating Research Impact in the Biomedical & Life Sciences: Experiences from the UK’s REF2014


When compared to previous Research Assessment Exercises, the transforming factor in the UK's REF2014 was the assessment of non-academic impact, i.e. the attempt to carry out an organised and systematic evaluation of the benefits for Society that had occurred as a result of original research in Higher Education Institutions. A so-called Impact Template describing the submitting Unit's approach to delivering impact outside the academic environment was evaluated and a number (depending on the size of the submitting unit) of Case Studies describing specific impacts, the underpinning original research and the relationship between the research work and the impact were assessed. The most critical phase in these evaluations was the multi-stage calibration exercise and the intensive discussions in the sub-panels surrounding this calibration. A consensus concerning both the process and the 'marking' evolved gradually and we increasingly gained confidence that our evaluations were meaningful and consistent. The talk will focus on what worked particularly well, but also admit some remaining difficulties and will conclude with specific lessons and recommendations from the Impact Evaluation in the Biomedical and Life Sciences and, in particular, the Biological Sciences.


Ole Petersen (OP) is Medical Research Council Professor at Cardiff University's School of Biosciences. Educated as a medical doctor at the University of Copenhagen, he has served as Symers Professor of Physiology at the University of Dundee and George Holt Professor of Physiology at the University of Liverpool. OP pioneered patch clamp single channel and whole cell current recording in epithelial cells, characterizing the calcium-activated ion channels that control fluid secretion. He discovered hormone-evoked local calcium signals, as well as their mechanism of generation, and showed that they control exocytotic enzyme secretion. More recently, he and his collaborators have discovered how alcohol and products of alcohol and fatty acids evoke excessive calcium release from intracellular stores in the exocrine pancreas thereby initiating pancreatitis, an often fatal human disease in which the pancreas digests itself and its surroundings. He has defined the intracellular receptor mechanisms responsible for alcohol-related pancreatitis and shown how they can be blocked. OP was elected Fellow of The Royal Society (FRS) in 2000 (Vice-President of The Royal Society 2005-6) and Member of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina in 2010. He was a Founding Member of Academia Europaea and is also Honorary Member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences as well as Foreign Member of the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences & Letters. He received the Czech Academy of Sciences’ Purkynĕ Medal in 2003 and became Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2008. In 2013, Ole Petersen was awarded The American Physiological Society's Horace W Davenport Distinguished Lectureship and delivered the Award Lecture at FASEB's 'Experimental Biology' in Boston, USA. OP chaired the Biological Sciences Sub-Panel in the UK Government's 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF2014) and was also member of Main Panel A in REF2014.

Presentation slides