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Facing moral dilemmas

 

Professor Ruth Chadwick

Professor Ruth Chadwick is Director of the Centre for Economic and Social Aspects of Genomics (CESAGen) where researchers from the humanities and social sciences work closely with scientists to address the social, economic and policy aspects of new genetic breakthroughs. Professor Chadwick is also Chair of the ethics committee of the International Human Genome Organisation, a member of the Food Ethics Council and a member of the Medical Research Council Advisory Steering Committee on DNA Banking.

The Economic and Social Research Council has awarded an £8Million five year contract to CESAGen to address social dimensions of applying genomics in the health service and other social domains. Professor Chadwick and her team will be looking at both common and rare diseases and also such issues as food and nutrition, behaviour and criminal responsibility, and human enhancement.

Social scientists at Cardiff are continually working alongside medical specialists in studying how individuals and their families respond to and cope with genetic diseases. Members of CESAGen have been conducting a number of studies on families in Wales. They have looked at how information about genetic risk and genetic diseases is shared among family members, and the everyday dilemmas people face when deciding what to tell their children and other relatives, when to tell them, and how to do so. They have also studied how people make sense of their genetic inheritance: for example how they understand the information they are given by doctors and genetic counsellors.

Increasingly, the capability to undertake world-class social science research is an important component of world-class biomedical research and Cardiff University’s strength in both these areas is a major factor in its ability to win research funding within the UK and internationally.