*** Everyone Welcome! No need to book in advance ***
Date: Thursday 2nd March
Room: College Building C133
Prof Olga van den Akker (Middlesex University)
Hundreds of thousands of babies are born across the world each year via assisted conception techniques, many of these with a genetic link only to one of the parents, and some with no genetic and no gestational link. Assisted conception treatments are in huge demand for social and medical reasons. Despite the opportunities and demand, inequality in access to these services is evident at home and abroad. With the increasing international commercialisation of gamete, embryo and surrogate services, further amplification of inequalities develop. Many treatments also mimic as closely as possible traditional conception, but the resultant conceptions, pregnancies and babies are non-traditional, despite frequent attempts by the parent(s) to deny difference. Similarly, some offspring who know they were conceived in non-traditional ways report identity conflict and require knowledge about their origins. These conflicts are not sufficiently addressed in research, policy and practice. Human rights and psychosocial welfare issues in building families using third party assisted conception, in addition to allowing for equality in access, also demand accuracy of birth and genetic information. Psychosocial research can do much to contribute to the evidence and to debates.
Olga B.A. van den Akker is Professor of Health Psychology. She completed her BSc in Psychology at the University of East London, and was subsequently awarded an MRC studentship at St George’s Hospital Medical School, University of London to carry out a PhD investigating the Psychophysiology of the menstrual cycle. This was followed by post-doctoral research at the Institute of Psychiatry and St. Mary’s hospitals London, and senior academic posts at the University of East London, University of Birmingham and Aston University. She has been funded for research into chronic diseases and aspects relating to sexual and reproductive health by the British Academy, Charitable organisations, regional health authorities and the NHS Research and Development. In 2007 she became Head of Department of Psychology at Middlesex University, London.