The 2nd Cardiff International Genomics Conference held last week, from 13th-14th September, provided a diverse programme of distinguished and expert speakers and Chairs, with Professor Sir John Burn opening, and Professor Sir David Weatherall closing the conference. The theme of the conference was genomics for healthcare and socio-economic progress.
Topics ranged from genomic medicine and healthcare to ethical, legal and social aspects of genomics. Talking about the ‘omics revolution’ John Burn commented on the dramatic impact that next generation sequencing is having on the capacity to generate vast amounts of data – and that we are ‘heading for the biggest traffic jam in history’ in terms of being able to analyse and interpret information gathered about the individual human genome. Related to this, he also identified the ethical dilemmas around dealing with unexpected findings from genome analysis as one of the major challenges that healthcare will face.
The session on the economic impact of genomics offered a broader perspective that was refreshing. Professor Denis Murphy delivered a fascinating talk about GM foods and crops, in the context of food and agriculture genomics. Reflecting on the creation of the first artificial cell, Dr Paul Oldham talked about the possibility of a new kingdom being established – Synthetica.
Professor Maggie Kirk presented the GPU’s work on promoting and monitoring public and professional engagement in genetics and gave the final vote of thanks. The GPU also hosted a stall at the conference and there was a good level of interest in its work. The GPU poster on Telling Stories won the poster prize, after judging by the conference panel. Dr Rhian Morgan was pleased to accept this from Professor Dhavendra Kumar, conference organiser.