Venki Ramakrishnan, President of the Royal Society

In the past, UK science has been well supported by EU funding. This has been an essential supplement to UK research funds. In the upcoming negotiations we must make sure that research, which is the bedrock of a sustainable economy, is not short-changed, and the government ensures that the overall funding level of science is maintained.

One of the great strengths of UK research has always been its international nature, and we need to continue to welcome researchers and students from abroad. Any failure to maintain the free exchange of people and ideas between the UK and the international community, including Europe, could seriously harm UK science.

Finally, many global challenges can only be tackled by countries working together, and it is easier to work together when policy and regulation are consistent. In negotiating a new relationship with the EU we must ensure that we do not put unnecessary barriers in place that will inhibit collaborations.

Professor John Zarnecki, the President of the Royal Astronomical Society

We must remember that whatever happens, science has no boundaries. It is vital that we do not give the message, particularly to our younger colleagues, in the UK and beyond that our country is not a good place in which to do scientific research, however uncertain the economic and political environment is.

I have been privileged during my career to have worked in a research environment in Europe which has had few borders for either people or ideas. We must strive to make sure that these rights are not taken away - this would be enormously to the detriment of UK society.

Mike Thompson, CEO of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry

The voice of the British people has been heard. This creates immediate challenges for future investment, research and jobs in our industry in the UK. With that being the case, we are committed to working closely with the government to agree what steps need to be taken to send a strong signal that the UK is open for business.

A man carries a EU flag, after Britain voted to leave the European Union, outside Downing Street Neil Hall/ Reuters

Professor Lord Martin Rees, Fellow of Trinity College, University of Cambridge

What is especially sad is that in the referendum vote, the younger people were strongly positive. They see themselves as 'Europeans' with a shared culture, and recognise that our continent can best achieve growing prosperity – and tackle global challenges — through the joint exploitation of science and technology. They believe that Europe can be a progressive political force in a turbulent and multipolar world. Indeed, although the science-linked arguments are themselves compelling, they were trumped for many of us by these broader ones.

So the referendum outcome is deeply depressing – a view shared across mainland Europe. Support for the EU was strong, especially among the young, the universities, the technical community, and a majority of our business and professional leaders.

Despite all that, we're landed with a frightening scenario. The UK will exit the EU. Scotland might then (with justification) seek independence, breaking up the union with England and Wales that has prevailed for more than 300 years, and seek to rejoin as a separate nation. Northern Ireland might seek to rejoin the Republic. Our government will be trying, of course, to negotiate new 'customised' links with the EU. But they're kidding themselves if they think these can be as benign as the EU's long-standing agreements with (for instance) Norway. You get a far better deal in a civil partnership than after an acrimonious divorce.

David Cameron convincingly articulated the 'in' case. But by committing us to a referendum he triggered a deeply divisive debate dominated by his opportunist detractors – there is a lot of blame to be spread around. And he has brought about an outcome that irreversibly weakens Europe, and possible breaks up the United Kingdom too – what a devastating legacy!

Dr Sarah Main, Director of the Campaign for Science & Engineering (CaSE)

This outcome provides a real challenge for our sector. Science is an area where the relationship between the UK and the EU was particularly beneficial. Not least because scientists won billions of pounds of research funding for the UK (€8.8bn between 2007 and 2013), above and beyond what we put in. In addition, free movement of people in the EU made it easy for scientists to travel, collaborate and share ideas with the best in Europe and for companies and universities in the UK to easily access top talent from Europe.

Many scientists and engineers will be disappointed. The sector consistently showed huge support for EU membership. Our sector is facing great change with the Higher Education and Research bill currently going through parliament. And leaving the EU will no doubt have huge additional impact on our universities and research businesses.

Science is one of the UK's great strengths and works to keep us at the forefront of health, well-being and innovation. It is therefore vital that science is on the table when the difficult and myriad political decisions that follow are made, from immigration policy to regulation, in order to support a thriving science and engineering sector in the UK. CaSE will play our part to ensure that they do.

Professor Simon Wessely, FMedSci, President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists & Chair of Psychological Medicine and Vice Dean, Institute of Psychiatry Psychology & Neuroscience, King's College London

There is no way I can pretend to be anything other than dispirited and disappointed. While I don't believe that people voted to leave the EU with science and health foremost in their minds, I fear that the consequences for both will be serious over the coming year unless we take firm and decisive action now. I hope that ways will be found to reassure all those non-UK EU citizens who work in science or the NHS that their futures are secure here, and that we will make sure that whatever happens the UK remains an attractive place for others to come and help take medical science and the NHS forward.

Steve Bates, BIA Chief Executive

This is not the outcome that the BIA wanted, but we accept the views of the UK people. The life sciences sector is a resilient community, unfazed by new challenges and staffed by great management teams used to working in a global environment. The fundamentals of UK bioscience remain strong. In terms of potential new therapies in the pipeline, the UK is by far the strongest in Europe. But several key issues for our sector are now in flux.

Key questions about the regulation of medicine, access to the single market and talent, intellectual property and the precise nature of the future relationship of the UK with Europe are now upon us. This will require detailed and dispassionate thinking and the BIA will make its and its members' expertise available to the government and its key agencies in the coming weeks and months as we work through these complex issues.

The BIA remains committed to making the UK the third global cluster for life sciences and we will work closely with government and relevant agencies to see how this ambition can be delivered in the new political context we now find ourselves in as a country.

Lord Sharkey, Chair of the Association of Medical Research Charities

The UK health and medical research community partners and collaborates with the European Union and its member states to advance our knowledge and understanding of health. As the implications of the UK's vote to leave the EU unfold, we urge the government to engage in a constructive dialogue with the medical research charities sector on the future of EU funding for research in the UK, and the regulations and policies that affect the medical research environment.

Moving forward, we will want government to ensure an efficient and smooth transition of EU funding and regulations for medical research in the UK to enable it to continue to flourish.

Royal College of Midwives statement

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) is digesting the implications of the result of the referendum on the UK's membership of the European Union. The RCM is disappointed that the outcome of the referendum is a vote to leave the EU, although of course we respect the outcome of this democratic process.

During the referendum campaign, the RCM supported a vote to remain in the UK on the basis that this would be the best way to secure important maternity entitlements for pregnant women, legal protections for the midwifery profession and employment rights for midwives and maternity support workers that were all benefits of EU membership.

The vote is likely to result in a period of considerable uncertainty for the UK. While it will be some time before the full economic, political and social implications become clear, the impact that this will have on public finances and the funding of the NHS remains of concern to the RCM.

The RCM will redouble its efforts to safeguard its members' employment rights, the status of the profession and women's maternity entitlements and protections. We will also be seeking assurances about the position and future of the many valued EU citizens who work in the NHS.

For more reactions from scientists living and working in the UK, Nature News & Comment has been canvassing views on Twitter. You can read the reactions by following the feed below: