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April 22, 2008

Genomics News
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» Health, genetics and decision-making

The first intake on the 20 credit level 7 (Master’s level) module “Health, genetics and decision-making” have recently completed the taught component. The module is run on a one day a month basis, with all lectures, debates and other activities taking place within that day between 9am and 4pm. We were lucky enough to secure the services of some excellent external speakers, which is a pattern we’re planning to follow again with the next intake this Autumn. The student evaluation forms were very positive, the biggest complaint about the course was that it didn’t last long enough! While this module forms part of the MSc Professional Practice offered within the Faculty of Health, Sport and Science we would welcome applicants who wish to take this as a standalone module for professional development purposes.

Given the current review of the Genetics White Paper and the House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology sub-committee review of genomic medicine, the role of genetics in health care is a current government priority, and looks likely to continue in that vein. In light of this, a course which looks at health, genetics and decision-making would be useful to most health professionals.

As module manager, I’d like to thank the external speakers who gave up their time to give presentations, and the students who contributed to making the module a success, and wish them all good luck in their forthcoming exam.

» Genetics White Paper: Progress Review now available

The Department of Health has just released the Progress Review of the Genetics White Paper Our Inheritance, Our Future. With an investment programme of £50million, it is encouraging to see the breadth of work that has already been achieved since 2003 when the paper outlined a number of areas of focus including: developing specialist services, research and development (to: increase knowledge, improve technology and develop testing and treatment options), mainstreaming of services with the associated education for non-genetic health professionals and encompassing it all by working to ensure public confidence.

Realising these goals always viewed as long-term and the authors have taken the opportunity during the consultation to look to the future. The consensus does appear to be that “Much has been achieved in a relatively short period, but we are only at the beginning of the process” and I was heartened to see the following comment form the Royal Society (especially in light of my last blog “n=1 follows n=0”!): “Education in genetics has trailed behind the enormous scientific and technical advances in this field and the Royal Society strongly believes that the teaching of genetics to doctors, pharmacists and nurses at undergraduate, postgraduate and continuing medical education levels must be increased as a matter of urgency.” – the time for improving genetics education is now.