Progress Educational Trust was set up in May 1992 but it had its beginnings in late 1985, as a lobby group set up to oppose any restrictions on research using human embryos - the PROGRESS Campaign for Research into Human Reproduction.
Once the future of such research was felt to have been secured, 'there was still an unmet need for public education in the field of human reproduction and genetics.' And so Progress Educational Trust was established to promote the benefits of reproductive and genetic science. PROGRESS says it 'believes that reproductive and genetic technologies have much to offer' and part of iits mission is to 'extend the educational work of PROGRESS into schools, universities and the media.'
Alistair Kent of the Genetic Interest Group is on the Progress Advisory Committee. Like the Genetic Interest Group, PROGRESS is a 'pro genetics' lobby holding that genetic technologies 'offer an alternative to those who are unable - because of infertility or because they have a genetic disease in their family - to consider normal methods of having children.' According to its former Director, 'our organisation exists to make sure that access to new technologies is not restricted by parliament or by doctors'.
PROGRESS is very closely linked with the pharmaceutical industry. For instance, AstraZeneca sponsors BioNews - its free weekly digest of news covering IVF, cloning, embryo research, preimplantation genetic diagnosis (pgd), gene therapy and prenatal genetic diagnosis.
BioNews has its own website - BioNews.org.uk - which was funded by an educational grant from the Department of Health, following a Government White Paper Our Inheritance, Our Future - Realising the potential of genetics in the NHS (June 2003) which proposed funding PROGRESS as part of an effort 'to promote public understanding of genetics'.
The Editor-in-chief of BioNews until 2005 was Juliet Tizzard who started as the Administrator at PROGRESS in April 1998 and went on to become its Director, before leaving to become the Policy Manager of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority. Tizzard is part of the LM network which argues 'for interfering with nature at every opportunity in order to improve the human condition' via infertility treatment and genetic engineering. John Gillott who works for the Genetic Interest Group which, in turn, works closely with PROGRESS, is also part of the same network. Both Gillott and Tizzard have been on the staff of the online clinical genetics resource Genepool .