Lancaster University

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01/18/2002 12:58:32

Lancaster University is set to play a major part in a new North West Genetics Centre of Excellence announced by Secretary of state for Health Alan Milburn.

The North West Genetics Knowledge Park (NoWGEN) is a collaboration between the universities of Lancaster, Manchester, Liverpool, UMIST and Manchester Children's University Hospitals NHS Trust. NoWGEN is one of seven centres of excellence to be funded in the UK by the £30 million worth of Government Investment.

Lancaster's particular expertise is based around the ethical aspects of genetics research, based in the Institute for Environment, Philosophy and Public Policy which specialises in researching public and policy-world understandings of environment, new technologies and the genetic revolution.

Director of IEPPP and Professor of Bioethics Ruth Chadwick said: "This is very exciting for Lancaster and we are pleased to be one of the five partners involved in the NoWGEN.

"At Lancaster, we have expertise in the understanding of public concerns about genetics research. The Institute researches ways to allow the public a voice which feeds into policy and also is a leader in creating methods to allow this to happen, such as designing focus groups and citizens panels.

"The other aspect of our work is in creating theoretical and ethical frameworks to ensure individual's confidentiality and privacy during a time when much more genetic information about people is available. People have concerns about whether information about their genetic susceptibility to a disease could be used against them, in refusing life assurance, for example."

The new Centre will also impact on teaching at Lancaster. IEPPP is launching a new MA in Gene Culture and Society, which will allow students to exchange modules with other partner universities such as Manchester.