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Today’s answers, tomorrow’s questions

25 October 2007

Cardiff University experts will explore social and ethical questions raised by advances in genetic research at an event showcasing social science research into the field of genomics.

Researchers from the University’s Centre for Economic and Social Aspects of Genomics (Cesagen) will join policymakers and scientists at the event ‘Genomics and Society - Today’s Answer’s, Tomorrow’s Questions.’ The Centre plays a key role in the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Genomics Network (EGN) which is hosting the event.

DNA, genes and chromosomes are often described as the 'genetic information' that makes us what we are at birth. By considering together all this material from one organism, scientists find what they call its genome.

Genomics is the science of these genomes - their sequencing, mapping, analysis, and manipulation - central to developments from GM crops and Dolly the sheep to DNA fingerprinting or treating diabetes and liver disease in humans.

Professor Ruth Chadwick, Director of the Centre for Economic and Social Aspects of Genomics (Cesagen) said: "It’s important that science should be conducted in the public interest and there should be open debate about what purposes it is put to. As the Centre enters the second five years of its research programme, some of the most pressing issues to debate are genetic therapies and enhancements to human health and performance. At the conference we will outline this research agenda, as well as reflecting on how our existing research has already contributed to such policy debates."

Embryonic stem cell research, genetic databases and biobanks, the potential for huge advances in medicine, physical health and psychiatry, feature among the topics to be covered in lectures, debates, seminars and exhibitions.