Lancaster University

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Launch of Centre for Economic and Social Aspects of Genomics

10/07/2003 09:53:50

Because of debates over genetically modified crops, the prospect of designer babies, and the race for a cure for numerous diseases, genetics and genomics are rarely out of the news. Now, a new research centre at Lancaster University aims to enable academics to study the way in which this rapidly changing field of study could change our lives forever.

The Centre for Economic and Social Aspects of Genomics (CESAGen) at Lancaster University will be officially opened on Friday 10th October by Professor Ray Macdonald, the University’s Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Resources.

The Centre, a collaboration with Cardiff University, has been funded by a four million pound grant from the Economic and Social Research Council as a part of its Genomics network, in recognition of the track record in Genomics and Social Sciences at the two universities.

Based in the Institute for Environment, Philosophy and Public Policy, the new Centre will take an interdisciplinary approach, drawing on the expertise of Social and Natural Scientists from across the University. In this way, the Centre will aim to explore the economic and social impact of new genetic technologies, the ethics of new advances in genetic research, and to define a research agenda to keep pace with the rapidly changing field of genomic and genetic science.

As part of four flagship projects running at Lancaster, researchers will be investigating patients' attitudes towards donation of embryos for stem cell research; the ethical, regulatory and governance issues arising from use of genetic databases; plant genomics and commercialisation; and indigenous peoples and globalisation of genomics in Amazonia.

Professor Ruth Chadwick, Director of the Centre, said “This is a tremendous opportunity for Lancaster to build on its record of excellence in interdisciplinary research and in engaging with public concerns about genomics as it affects both our environment and our future health policy”.