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This week at the Progress Educational Trust (9 August 2017)

Professor William Newman, Director of the Manchester Centre for Genomic Medicine and chair of the Progress Educational Trust's FREE-to-attend event 'What Does Consent Mean for Generation Genome?', taking place at the Nowgen Centre in Manchester on the evening of Monday 11 September 2017The Progress Educational Trust (PET) is delighted to announce its next free-to-attend public event, 'What Does Consent Mean for Generation Genome?', taking place take place at the Nowgen Centre in Manchester on the evening of Monday 11 September 2017.

Professor Sue Hill, Chief Scientific Officer at NHS England and speaker at the Progress Educational Trust's FREE-to-attend event 'What Does Consent Mean for Generation Genome?', taking place at the Nowgen Centre in Manchester on the evening of Monday 11 September 2017The event will form part of the Genomics Conversation programme of activities led by Genomics England, the organisation established by the UK Government to deliver the 100,000 Genomes Project. It will be chaired by Professor William Newman (Director of the Manchester Centre for Genomic Medicine), who leads on the 100,000 Genomes Project in the Manchester area.

Anneke Lucassen, Professor of Clinical Genetics at the University of Southampton and speaker at the Progress Educational Trust's FREE-to-attend event 'What Does Consent Mean for Generation Genome?', taking place at the Nowgen Centre in Manchester on the evening of Monday 11 September 2017Speakers will include Professor Sue Hill (Chief Scientific Officer at NHS England), Professor Anneke Lucassen (Leader of the Clinical Ethics and Law research group at the University of Southampton) and Dr Tara Clancy (Consultant Genetic Counsellor at the Manchester Centre for Genomic Medicine).

Professor Dame Sally Davies, the UK's Chief Medical Officer and keynote speaker at the recent Progress Educational Trust event 'What Next for Genomics? Providing Answers, Changing Lives, Transforming the NHS' Ahead of the event, Professor Hill has written a new article about this area - 'Delivering the Genomic Dream across the NHS' - for PET's flagship publication BioNews (to which you can subscribe for free). Find out more about the event here, and book your free place by emailing

Meanwhile, you can watch the following film of the previous PET/Genomics England event, 'What Next for Genomics? Providing Answers, Changing Lives, Transforming the NHS'. The event launched Generation Genome, the Annual Report of the UK's Chief Medical Officer Professor Dame Sally Davies, who was a keynote speaker.

Booking is also open for PET's 2017 Annual Conference, which is entitled 'Crossing Frontiers: Moving the Boundaries of Human Reproduction' and is taking place in London on Friday 8 December 2017.

That conference will explore the changing boundaries of reproductive medicine and research, with a stellar lineup of speakers including:

The conference agenda can be found here, and details of attendance fees and how to book can be found here. There is also a special early bird discount on the standard attendance fee if you book your place before 15 September, as detailed here.

Sandy Starr, Communications Officer at the Progress Educational Trust (PET) and Webmaster of PET's flagship publication BioNews, is quoted in The Times One of the main frontiers of biomedicine which will be discussed at the conference - genome editing - was the subject of front-page headlines around the world this month. Newly published US-led research involved editing the genomes of human embryos, in order to better understand - and perhaps, in future, treat or avoid - serious disease.

Alongside its coverage of this breakthrough, The Times published an article about the risk that such pioneering research could be put to premature and unscrupulous use, in parts of the world where there is little or no regulation. PET Communications Officer Sandy Starr - quoted in the article at some length - explained that while this is always a possibility, there are appropriate ways to respond to it if it happens.

PET has led the way in public debate about genome editing in recent years, organising the first public conference on the issue - 'From Three-Person IVF to Genome Editing' - where it was discussed by the UK Government's Chief Scientific Adviser. More recently, PET's conference 'Rethinking the Ethics of Embryo Research' saw the issue discussed by the first researcher licensed to use genome editing in human embryo research in the UK.

Another aspect of genome editing where PET has led the debate is the possibility of revising 14-day limit on human embryo research - a limit originally proposed in a landmark report by the charity's Patron, Baroness Mary Warnock. Sandy discussed the 14-day limit in a presentation to MPs in Parliament earlier this year, and the Nuffield Council on Bioethics has now published a report of a workshop on the issue in which Sandy participated.

The report is entitled Human Embryo Culture, and includes contributions from experts including Professor Azim Surani (who will be speaking at PET's 8 December conference). It makes for useful reading alongside recent journal articles on this subject published by the Hastings Centre, by BioMed Central and by the Company of Biologists.

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