What’s it all about?
It’s easier than ever to look inside our genes, and research is advancing at an astounding rate. Newspaper headlines tell us about the “breast cancer” gene, or the “warrior” gene or even the so-called “infidelity” gene. But can we be so sure about these links? And if so, who has the right to know the story that’s encoded in our DNA?
What will we cover?
We’ll start with a brief overview of cells, DNA and genes. This’ll include a fun experiment: extracting DNA from strawberries using nothing but household ingredients. Following this we’ll turn back to human genetics, and look at genetic sequencing and screening, and the “hot topics” in the area of genetics, including the idea that our genes play a role in how we act.
We’ll also be looking at the implications of the recent explosion in genetic data. For example, would you get a double mastectomy if you had an increased risk of breast cancer, but no disease yet? (Angelina Jolie did). And who has access to your genetic data? Could a potential employer or insurer be allowed to know your potential risk of future disease? As the law struggles to keep up with science, these are important questions that will need answers.
Who will be teaching?
Matthew Snelson is a self-confessed science junkie. With a background in nutrition, he worked for several years as a clinical dietitian in Perth before coming across to Melbourne to pursue further studies in the area of genetics. He’s currently completing a Masters in Biotechnology, with plans to continue to a PhD next year. He feels strongly about science education and communication, and wants to help make science accessible and understandable to everyone. When he’s not making science he enjoys bush walking, playing guitar and writing blurbs about himself in the third person.