Oxford University, in association with the Financial Times, last night staged the first of an annual series of lectures in London. The series aims to connect a wide audience with research emerging from the University, showing how that research is immediately relevant to topics of significant public importance. The Financial Times itself is dedicated to understanding and explaining the modern world and how science impacts public policy.
Professor Peter Donnelly, interviewed in the FT’s weekly science podcast by Clive Cookson, talked about The Gene Revolution, the extraordinary recent advances in human genetics and their potential to improve healthcare, together with the challenges they bring for the individual and society.
Professor Donnelly is head of the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics at the University of Oxford and has been at the forefront of efforts worldwide to identify genetic variants linked to common diseases. He described the latest advances in genetics and their growing impact in improving healthcare.
He also highlighted the challenges the revolution in genetic information is bringing for the individual and for society – for example, is the NHS well placed to take advantage of advances in genomics; how should information about an individual’s DNA sequence be handled; and how will society view people who are known to be at risk from certain diseases but choose not to change their lifestyle?
These issues were then discussed afterwards by a panel chaired by Lionel Barber, editor of the Financial Times, and including Professor Sir John Bell, Oxford’s Regius Professor of Medicine; Stephen Dorrell MP, Chair of the House of Commons’ Health Select Committee and former Secretary of State for Health; Professor Nazneen Rahman of the Institute of Cancer Research; and science broadcaster Dr Geoff Watts.
You can see a short interview with Professor Donnelly here and the full lecture will also be made available to audiences worldwide through the University’s iTunes U site and YouTube channel later this week.