Issues relating to a wide range of innovative health technologies (IHTs) are currently being widely covered in the media. Developments in genetics, imaging technologies, cloning and stem cell research continue to challenge people's traditional concepts of the NHS - the concepts of the patients and carers themselves, the government, and the legal system. These new developments are clearly going to have an impact upon all our lives and they have, therefore, given rise to many new and diverse questions for social science.

The Innovative Health Technologies Programme will seek to address some of these questions. Funded jointly by the Economic and Social Research Council and the Medical Research Council, this new Programme will examine the role that these and other new technologies now play - and will increasingly play in future - in redefining the way we manage and experience health and medicine. An indication of the wider significance of these issues for the UK private sector is that the Programme has also secured collaborative funding from GlaxoSmithKline.

The £5m Innovative Health Technologies Programme will provide an opportunity for all those interested in promoting, understanding and regulating developments that will have a dramatic effect on our lives. Claims and counterclaims as to the benefits and risks such developments have brought, and will bring in the future, reflect the contested terrain occupied by IHTs. They focus debate on definitions and meanings of health and illness, of social values and human identity and of risk and opportunity.

The overall aim of this Programme is to advance our understanding of the interaction between innovative health technologies and wider changes in society. The central question of the Programme is therefore:

How will people and society be affected by, and in turn affect, innovative health technologies?

ESRC logo MRC logo