08 March 2015

Shane on BBC's The Big Questions

Should you know what's in your genes? That was the central (literally and figuratively) in BBC's popular Sunday Morning debate programme "The Big Questions" on 8 March 2015. My goal, as your humble scientist and doctor person - to explain how the Human Genome Project and the work surrounding it has brought a wealth of information and real tangible benefit to patients with rare diseases.

As any of you who are regular viewers of #BBCTBQ (as its hashtag goes) will know, there often follows a fairly dyspeptic exchange with more heat than light frequently generated. My principal "opponent" was a psychologist by the name of Oliver James, who takes the view that genes don't really tell us very much about variation in human psychology or IQ, and therefore it's a waste of time. I disagree on both points, but even if he was right about his first point (and he's not), it would be like saying bananas are no good because you can't use them to make marmalade.

Medicine marches on, and as we uncover more about our genes, we are learning how to make life better for people. That strikes me as a worthy goal. However there are tons of examples that we can point to right here and now that show that sequencing the human genome was perhaps one of the best investments that science has ever made. We are reaping the benefits of the genome right now, despite the naysayers.

Gastric juices a little too alkaline? Fix that by watching the YouTube of my section (kindly uploaded by that nice lady from Catholic Voices). Enjoy!

[Thanks to Mentorn Media - they own the screen grab]

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