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UKCSJ Genomics

The Future of Genomics: A personal introduction

The cost of sequencing a human genome has plummeted from hundreds of thousands of dollars to about $20k today.  In parallel, there has been an explosion of ‘genotyping’ services that scan your genome and interpret the results for a few hundred dollars.  In this session, attendees will hear from experts across this spectrum about the stories that are likely to emerge in the coming year, from cancer research to ethics and of course personal genomics.  The ABSW has secured a number of personal genome testing kits from the leading providers for use by attendees of the conference and we hope to hear about the experiences in this session. 

Sponsor: Oxford Nanopore Technologies, developing a new generation of DNA analysis technology.


Mark Henderson

Science Editor, The Times and author of 50 Genetics Ideas You Really Need to Know. Mark Henderson has followed the development of genomic science keenly, including undergoing a number of personal genetic tests.  Mark will chair the Future of Genomics session, including providing an overview of the stories that writers might expect to see emerging in the next year.

Daniel Macarthur

Daniel Macarthur is a renowned blogger on the science, technology and policy of genomics, with a particular interest in personal genomics (  He is a researcher at the UK’s Wellcome Trust Sanger Centre. 

Dr Christine Patch

Chair, British Society for Human Genetics and Consultant Genetic Counsellor and Manager, Guy’s Hospital, London

Dr James Brenton

Cancer Research UK - Dr Brenton’s research of cancer genomics focuses on why some cancer treatments are more effective, or less toxic, in some patients. His area of expertise is ovarian cancer.

Alison Hall

Project Manager, Law and Policy, PHG Foundation.


PART ONE (approx one hour)

Introduction: Mark Henderson

Introduction to personal genomics – Daniel MacArthur, blogger on consumer genomics and broader genomic issues.  Wellcome Trust Sanger Centre

Genetics 101: what is a genome, what is genetic variation and how does it relate to susceptibility to disease/potential treatment. What is a SNP, what other types of variation are there?  The basics of personal genomics – quick overview of recent developments in the field and looking forward, what else is likely to be available in the next 3-5 years.

Genetic counselling: Christine Patch, Guy’s Hospital

How genetic counselling works today, communicating risk to patients and their opinion on the balance between personal freedom to information and counselling support.  Where the field of genetic counselling will need development for the future eg segue from monogenic disease to more complex scenarios, number of counsellors.

Personal experiences: panel presentations and discussion.

Three journalists are invited to present and be interviewed on their experiences with their personal genome profile.  Round-table discussion with Christine Patch and Daniel Macarthur. Personal genome testing kits have kindly been provided by,, and

Richard Hollingham is one of the delegates who has been allocated a kit - hear his initial thoughts here:



Journalist resources.

filmMultimedia (Part 1): mp3, enhanced podcast (right-click to download)




Future applications of personal genetic information – what will the future stories be?

Mark Henderson – the general landscape for genomics stories.  Quick synopsis of landscape of future stories eg risk management for common disease, pathogen genomes, also non-human genomes.

Focus on Cancer:  James Brenton, Cancer Research UK.

How genomics is influencing the study of cancer and examples of how this is translating into new clinical practices.  Overview of developments that might be expected in the next year, for example the establishment of CRUK ‘treatment centres’, use of personal whole genome data for Cancer treatment.

Legal and social implications of personal genomics - Alison Hall, PHG Foundation.

Review of the current ethical, legal and social issues that surround genomics. Brief review of the current consumer genomics space.  Moving on to the more complex issues that are arising, for example in large scale genome research projects and the challenges that will be faced if/when personal genome sequence data becomes a routine part of clinical medicine in the UK (insurance moratorium, privacy, logistical issues, formation of future-proofed guidelines).

Journalist resources

A conclusion to the session with a review of the future potential stories and lists of places and people that journalists can go to for information.


filmMultimedia (Part 2): Video, mp3, enhanced podcast (right-click to download)


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