Dear Professor Foskett,
I was awarded a Clinical Fellowship in Biomedical Ethics from the Wellcome Trust in 2010 to conduct postgraduate research at the Centre for Professional Ethics (PEAK). As part of my application, external peer reviews of my research proposal were sought from national and international experts. They all described Keele as an ideal location for bioethical work and indeed commented on the respect and esteem with which the department’s research output and staff are held generally. As you may well know, two of the four fellowships which have been awarded since the Wellcome scheme started in 2009 have been to this institution, a remarkable achievement. I therefore have no doubt that PEAK played a major part in the success of my application and would benefit from such funding in the future. We all understand the need to make hard decisions in tough times. However, short-term gains have to be balanced against long-term goals and the decision-making process be as fair and transparent as possible.
As other people have said, the closure of PEAK could irrevocably damage the university’s reputation and I would hasten to add also eradicate a fantastic potential source of revenue in future years. As a doctor in the NHS, I am aware of a great need and desire amongst my colleagues for good quality training courses which can contribute to CPD (Continuing Professional Development). The current annual appraisal system and the introduction of revalidation next year means that staff are always on the lookout for interesting courses to attend. This is a relatively untapped market that PEAK is in a very fortuitous position to pursue.
I urge you to firstly, open dialogue with the relevant staff to determine if a less drastic resolution can be identified and secondly, take a long-range perspective and recognise the potential that PEAK offers both intellectually and financially.
Dr Joanne Gordon (Wellcome Trust Clinical Fellow)