2011 Festival of Ideas - The Genetic Revolution I: Health and Human Identity

How has the genetic revolution changed our ideas of the human body and human identity? How has it changed diagnosis and treatment of serious illnesses?

It is more than one hundred years since the term 'genetics' was coined, more than fifty years since the determination of the structure of DNA, the genetic blueprint, and ten years since the entire human genome was sequenced. What have these discoveries taught humans about themselves, and how can we use this knowledge to improve our lives?

This discussion will examine how the genetic revolution has influenced our understanding of health and human identity. The success of the Human Genome Project was announced with much fanfare, congratulations and speculation about the applications of the knowledge that was made available, but what did humans know about the practical implications of genetics before it was a laboratory science? How can the information contained within the human genome be used to improve human health? And what can we determine about the evolution of the human species from our genetic code? Prominent scientists in the field of molecular genetics will introduce these topics before a broader panel discussion about how our ideas of the human health and identity have been, and will continue to be shaped by our genome.