Future Debates: Sharing your genetic blueprint - who should have access?

Welcome to Future Debates, a series of public events supported by the British Science Association.

A genome is an entire set of DNA; all the instructions for making every part of a living thing. Research into our genomes could improve our understanding of diseases, cancers and passing on certain traits. The application of this research through genomic medicine is at the cutting edge of science. There’s large potential for the technology to help us create new treatments and preventative approaches.

Someone’s genome can explain lots of things about them, and we don’t yet understand all of what the genetic code means. Genome data is being collected from a group of patients with rare diseases and cancers across the UK, as part of the Genomics England 100,000 Genomes Project. This information needs to be collected and stored securely, interpreted by experts and viewed in a way that protects the donor’s identity. There have been discussions among scientists about the implications of genomic medicine for privacy and the NHS, and the British Science Association believes that it is vital to open that conversation up to the public.

Come and join our panel of scientists and other experts to discuss who should have access to this data. Should genomic data be used outside medicine? Should private companies share any profits they make from genomic data with participants? Does the right to privacy outweigh the societal benefit of genomic research?

Doors open from 6.15 pm, and the debate will run from 6.30 pm until 8.00 pm.

Future Debates events are part of the British Science Association’s work to make science a fundamental part of British society and culture. We want to empower many more people – not just scientists – to constructively engage in debates over the applications and implications of science in their lives, their local economy and the UK’s future.

Follow us on twitter LivingWellOx HumanGeneticsOx @BritSciAssoc and use the event hashtag #FutureDebates

Collated, anonymised data from the Future Debates series will be provided to the Chief Medical Officer for the purpose of informing policy about Genome Data Privacy. The event will not be recorded, nor will any individual be identifiable in any of this information.