Harnessing expertise to rapidly integrate ethical thinking into policy-making

The UK Ethics Accelerator is a new initiative that brings UK ethics research expertise to bear on the multiple, ongoing ethical challenges arising during pandemics. We provide rapid evidence, guidance and critical analysis to decision-makers across science, medicine, government and public health. We also support public debate on key ethical challenges.

What we do

The covid-19 crisis demands that policy-makers, researchers, health and social care workers, and members of the public address unprecedented ethical dilemmas every day. Resolving these dilemmas is hard and has risks. The complexity and speed by which these ethical challenges arise are leading to harms on a significant scale, some of which are inevitable and some avoidable.

Our main aim is to harness and mobilise the UK’ s internationally renowned expertise in ethics research, bringing it to bear on these multiple, ongoing challenges. We provide rapid evidence, guidance and critical analysis to help improve decision-making in response to this evolving pandemic.

We support public debate around key ethical challenges and identify strategies embed ethical thinking at the core of future pandemic preparedness. By leveraging broad networks of UK and international researchers we deliver timely guidance and advice to leaders across government, science, medicine, and public health. We also establish fora for public discussion, debate and information on ethical challenges

Our outputs include rapid research reviews, commentaries and policy guidance, as well as commissioned research and stakeholder engagement. By coordinating and focusing national investment in ethics research, we maximise the impact of ethical considerations across science, medicine, policy and society. This approach should help ensure more transparency and accountability and thereby improve public trust in decision-makers.


The Ethics Accelerator was funded by the UKRI Covid-19 research and innovation fund, grant number AH/V013947/1.

The Accelerator has an Advisory Board whose role is to: 

  • support expansion of the Accelerator’s network nationally and internationally;
  • help expand our reach, impact and relevance, particularly in policy and wider society;
  • identify and facilitate new relationships to people and institutions; and 
  • support sustainability and extension of the Accelerator’s activities beyond the life of the initial 18 month grant.

The Board members are:

  • Charlotte Augst, Chief Executive of National Voices, the leading coalition of health and social care charities in England
  • Victoria Butler-Cole QC, barrister at 39 Essex Chambers specialising in health and social care law, and member of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics
  • Shaun Griffin, former communications lead for the Pandemic Ethics Accelerator. Currently training to be a genomic counsellor on the National Scientist Training Programme. 
  • Professor Edward Harcourt, Director of research strategy and innovation at the Arts Humanities Research Council, and fellow of Keble College, University of Oxford.
  • Adam Hedgecoe, Professor at the School of Social Sciences, University of Cardiff.
  • Sheuli Porkess, Director Actaros Consultancy, Chair Policy & Communications Group at Faculty of Pharmaceutical Medicine, former Director Research, Medical and Innovation at the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry.
  • Gurch Randhawa, Professor of Diversity in Public Health and Director of the Institute for Health Research at the University of Bedfordshire
  • Jackie Leach Scully, Professor of Bioethics and Director of the Disability Innovation Institute at the University of New South Wales, Australia, and disability activist.
  • Hetan Shah, Chief Executive of the British Academy, a Visiting Professor at King’s College London and Deputy Chair of the Ada Lovelace Institute.
  • James Watson-O’Neill, Chief Executive of the deaf health charity, SignHealth.