This week at the Progress Educational Trust (13 October 2014)
The Progress Educational Trust (PET) is having its busiest autumn yet, with an exciting programme of events taking place in October, November and December.
First up, taking place this week, is 'Genomic Medicine Needs You - Do You Need Genomic Medicine?' - a free public event being held at the University of Oxford's Examination Schools on the evening of Thursday 16 October. This event will explore the clinical and ethical implications of the 100,000 Genomes Project, which aims to sequence 100,000 whole genomes from around 75,000 participants by 2017. PET is organising the event in partnership with Genomics England, the company established by the UK Government to carry out the project.
The speaker panel will consist of Sir John Chisholm (Chair of Genomics England), Professor Michael Parker (Chair of Genomics England's Ethics Advisory Committee), Richard Stephens (Chair of the National Institute for Health Research/National Cancer Research Institute's Consumer Liaison Group) and Dr Simon Woods (Codirector of Newcastle University's Policy, Ethics and Life Sciences Research Centre). The event will be chaired by PET Trustee Dr Christine Patch, who is currently running a pilot scheme for the 100,000 Genomes Project in her capacity as Consultant Genetic Counsellor and Manager at Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust.
Next up is another free public event - 'Genetic Conditions: How Should Your DNA Be Used in the 100, 000 Genomes Project?' - taking place at City University London on the evening of Thursday 6 November. This event is being organised by PET and Genomics England in partnership with City University London's Science Journalism course, and will explore what Genomics England intends to do with the 100,000 genomic sequences it acquires, in light of the fact that it will effectively own this data.
The speaker panel will consist of Professor Mark Caulfield (Chief Scientist at Genomics England), Professor Tim Hubbard (Head of Bioinformatics at Genomics England), Dr Mark Sheehan (Research Fellow at the University of Oxford's Ethox Centre and Institute for Science and Ethics) and Dr Sarah Wynn (Information Officer at Unique, the Rare Chromosome Disorder Support Group). The event will be chaired by Genomics England's Head of Engagement, Vivienne Parry.
Finally, PET is holding its Annual Conference 'The Commercialisation of Life' at University College London's Institute of Child Health on Tuesday 2 December. The conference will explore questions and controversies surrounding the role of commerce in genetics and fertility treatment, with sessions including 'Commercialisation and the Moral Obligation to Create Designer Babies', 'Whose Genes Are They Anyway?', 'The Baby Business' and 'IVF: Infertile, Vulnerable, Fleeced?'.
The conference boasts a stellar lineup of speakers including Professor Lord Robert Winston, Dr Kári Stefánsson, Professor Julian Savulescu, Peter Thompson, Professor Willem Ombelet, Dr Clare Gerada, Dr Stuart Hogarth, Jeremy Laurance, Dr Yacoub Khalaf, Vivienne Parry, Professor Sarah Franklin, Fiona Fox and John Parsons.
Click here for full details, including the conference agenda and how to book. Please join the event's Facebook page, and read this recent article in the Birmingham Mail, in which the conference's keynote speaker Robert Winston argues that IVF costs far too much and that fertility patients are being ripped off.
In other news this week, PET's Director Sarah Norcross and Legal Editor Antony Blackburn-Starza attended an event entitled 'Regulating Science: Between the Ivory Tower and the Policy Room', held at the Wellcome Trust and organised by the Arts and Humanities Research Council's Technoscience, Law and Society network.
In her capacity as Co-Chair of Fertility Fairness, Sarah also had a meeting this week with the Office of Toby Perkins, Labour MP for Chesterfield and Shadow Minister for Small Business. Sarah continues to be quoted by the media - most recently by the Essex Chronicle - on the subject of Mid Essex Clinical Commissioning Group's shocking decision to cut all funding of IVF treatment in its region.