Genetics

Libraries of recipe books, BRCA1, Gattaca, and Big Data Towers of Babel

Today we have an interview with NHS geneticist Melody Redman. Each of us carries around in our cells about 20,000 different genes – a unique set of biological code which shapes how our bodies develop. As scientists better understand genes and how they work, genetics is becoming a more and more important field of modern medicine, particularly in diagnosing conditions. But this comes with a brand new set of ethical challenges to think through. We go on to talk about a new NHS programme in England which is piloting whole genome sequencing of newborn babies. Why are scientists and doctors interested in collecting a child’s entire set of genes and storing them for the rest of their life? What medical benefits might result from this, and what ethical challenges does it throw up? Just because we can now do this, should we? We also consider some of the risks of our increasingly geneticised world and how as Christians we can hold onto our identity in Christ rather than lapsing into genetic determinism.

• Find out more about the Newborn Genomes Programme here
• The group Unique helps support people and families affected by rare chromosomal and genetic disorders

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