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Durham University

Institute of Advanced Study

My GeneSpace: Personalised Genetics: Are you ready to know your future?’

Public Lecture

This event is now sold out.

The Durham Forum for Health, Institute of Advanced Study and Wolfson Reseach Institute are delighted to invite you to attend a joint public lecture on Thursday 3rd May 2012 entitled 'My GeneSpace: Personalised Genetics: Are you ready to know your future?'  Confirmed guest speakers are Professor Sir John Burn, Professor Deryck Beyleveld and Dr. Robert Song.

The full programme including timings, speaker details and abstracts are noted below. Booking is essential (see registration details at the bottom of this page).


Event Start: 18:00 (tea/coffee available from 17:30). Approx finish 20:00 with a light buffet supper.

Venue: Kenworthy Hall, St. Mary's College, Durham University, South Road, Durham, DH1 3LR (map


  • Professor Sir John Burn, Institute of Genetic Medicine, Newcastle University
    Title:Your genetic make-up may soon be available at your local pharmacy'
    Abstract: Genetics evokes strong emotions mingled with intense curiosity and scientific excitement. We have grown used to discussions of the dangers of uncontrolled predictive testing for late onset disease, the power and potential for abuse of forensic tests such as paternity testing and the promise/threat of genetic modification. Behind all this is a more pragmatic reality. We prescribe drugs as standard doses when we know that people vary in their response, sometimes to a life threatening degree. The pharmaceutical industry has now woken to the fact that genetic targeting makes financial sense in the context of very expensive cancer drugs and the race is now on to make pharmacogenetic testing routine. The biggest barrier has been the lack of cheap easily accessible genetic analysis. Many experts advocate whole genome sequencing for all with a data bank ever ready for access by health care professionals. An alternative is to develop point of care testing. We have developed a new method to extract, amplify and analyse DNA which will offer the possibility of cheap routine testing in pharmacies and GP surgeries "while you wait". Using warfarin as an early example, the prospects for true personalised therapy will be explored.  


  • Professor Deryck Beyleveld, Durham University
    Title:  'Your genes and the law - what legal and ethical safeguards should there be?' 
    Abstract: Professor Beyleveld's talk outlines the framework for regulation of genetic testing in the UK and indentifies some of the key issues raised by this regulation
    or lack of it.  


  • Dr Robert Song, Durham University
    Title: 'Are our lives pre-destined by our genes?'
    Abstract:Are our lives pre-determined by our genes? In my presentation I will be considering the mystique of the gene and the ways in which biology has been thought to be destiny. This raises questions which range from eugenics through to the possibility of free will in the light of modern biological understanding and the significance of theology for this.

Brief questions will follow each speaker.  After the final speaker has delivered his paper additional time will be allowed for more indepth questions.

For further details please contact Linda Crowe, Suzanne Sanders, or Sarah Cotes