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This week at the Progress Educational Trust (16 May 2022)

The charity Progress Educational Trust (PET) was born from Parliamentary and public debate. PET's precursor organisation was formed in the mid-1980s, to campaign against proposed legislation that would have banned fertility treatment and embryo research in the UK.

The original Progress campaign was successful, and the proposed legislation was defeated. Different legislation was passed instead – the Human Fertilisation and Embryology (HFE) Act, which permits fertility treatment and embryo research within a carefully regulated environment.

Speakers at the Progress Educational Trust's FREE-to-attend public event 'Fertility Frontiers: What Is a Permitted Embryo in Law?', being held online on Wednesday 25 May 2022 The HFE Act was originally passed in 1990, and was substantially updated – with input from organisations including PET – in 2008. Now, the UK Government has signalled that the Act could be updated again in the near future.

For this reason, PET – continuing its tradition of encouraging debate, improving public understanding and informing policy – is currently exploring key issues that will need to be grappled with, if the HFE Act is updated.

PET next free-to-attend online event on this theme, taking place next week, will be 'Fertility Frontiers: What Is a "Permitted" Embryo in Law?'.

This event is taking place on Wednesday 25 May 2022 from 5.30pm-7.30pm (BST), with speakers including:

  • Professor Nick Hopwood (Professor of History of Science and Medicine at the University of Cambridge)

  • Professor Robin Lovell-Badge (Chair of Trustees at PET, and Group Leader at the Francis Crick Institute)

  • Professor Mary Herbert (Professor of Reproductive Biology at Newcastle University)

  • Julian Hitchcock (Solicitor at Bristows)

This event is supported by Merck and Hertility. Find out more and register for your free place here.

In other news, films of all five events in PET's recent 'Whole Genome Sequencing at Birth' series are now available to watch online. These events were produced in partnership with Genomics England and its Newborn Genomes Programme.

The Newborn Genomes Programme is exploring – in an ethics-approved research pilot, due to be embedded in the NHS – whether and how whole genome sequencing might, in future, be offered routinely for newborn babies in the UK. Watch the films below for an in-depth look at the issues raised by this work.

Note that Genomics England is currently seeking views on the principles that might inform its choice of conditions to be looked for, in newborn babies whose whole genomes are sequenced as part of its research pilot. Please submit your own views by completing this survey.