14th EMBO | EMBL Science and Society Conference: Public and Private Health – Genomics, Medicine and Society
07 Nov 2013 - 08 Nov 2013 - EBML Heidelberg, Germany
The next EMBO | EMBL Science and Society conference will focus on how the use of genomic information may benefit individual and public health. The interdisciplinary group of speakers will present the status of genetic and genomic research and discuss the ethical, legal, economic and societal implications as well as the practical challenges of implementing new knowledge into medical care.
Ideally, widespread use of genetic tools will allow the identification of diseases before the onset of clinical symptoms, the individualisation of drug treatment, and could induce individual behavioural changes on the basis of calculated disease risk. However, many challenges remain for the successful translation of genomic knowledge and technologies into health advances, such as medicines and diagnostics.
Some of these challenges are scientific: the relationship between genes and variants for most diseases and conditions is still not clear, nor how they interact with lifestyle and environmental factors. Mechanisms to monitor and assess genomic medicine in comparison to current medical practices will have to be developed in order to guarantee clinical utility; health care economics will have to be considered as well. Moreover, some policy challenges need to be resolved, including concerns about privacy and confidentiality of genetic information; the regulation and standardisation of genetic tests; and the role of general practitioners in the implementation of genetic advances. Concerns about the possible impacts on society and individuals have also been raised. These and other issues will be presented and discussed during the two days of the conference.