Genomics: offering the promise of a better future? 6 – 7 December at OECD headquarters in Paris


03/12/2010 - Genomics: offering the promise of a better future? 6 – 7 December at OECD headquarters in Paris


Advances in the life sciences are increasingly shaping our lives. They offer possibilities of a future where biology is engineered to create novel living organisms and products can do jobs for us in smarter ways.  Genomics could lead to better health and environmentally friendly materials and sources of energy.

The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Genomics Network (EGN) -  the world’s largest concentration of social scientific research in the field of genomics -  and the OECD will explore these and other issues at the ‘Delivering Global Promise Through the Life Sciences’ Conference hosted at the OECD Headquarters in Paris on Monday 6 and Tuesday 7 December 2010.

Policy-makers and regulators, industry leaders, academics, medical practitioners, social and natural scientists will review how knowledge in the life sciences is governed, shared, regulated and managed. They will also explore new links between the life sciences and information and communication technologies.
“The implications of this are enormous,” said Professor Steve Yearley, Director ESRC Genomics Forum. “The current generation has unparalleled access to information about our individual and collective genetic make-up. Understanding the consequences of this knowledge and thinking through the consequences for policy and for commerce is vital.”

“The OECD is taking a systematic look at what the social sciences can bring to international policy-making in science and technology,” said Iain Gillespie, Head of the OECD’s Science and Technology Policy division. “The life sciences offer huge potential for green growth and for better lives. As all governments are looking for sustained and sustainable recovery, getting policy right on critical drivers for growth has never been more important.”

Programme highlights include:

On Monday 6 December at 09:30: Dr. Gerardo Jimenez Sanchez, Chairman of the OECD Working Party on Biotechnology, Founding Director General of the National Institute for Medical Genomics in Mexico, and Chief Scientific Officer for Biofields, will open proceedings and draw final conclusions for policy makers. Next, Antony Taubman, Director, Intellectual Property Division, World Trade Organisation, will discuss knowledge networks and markets, including current opportunities for financing life science innovation.


On Tuesday 7 December at 14:45: Dr James Wilsdon, Director of Science Policy Centre for The Royal Society, UK will discuss public engagement with the life sciences, followed by Richard Johnson, Chief Executive Officer of Global Helix LLC, USA, who will participate in the closing debate, “Contemplating the future of biotechnology.”


To attend the conference or for further information journalists are invited to contact: Alison Caldecott, Genomics Forum Communications Officer on +44 (0)131 651 4747, or Lawrence Speer: or + 331 45 24 7970.

Note to Editors:

1. Delivering Global Promise Through the Life Sciences Conference, 6 & 7 December 2010 - OECD Conference Centre, 2 rue Andre Pascal, Paris, France

2.  Information is available on the  Conference webpage and the ESRC Genomics Forum's YouTube channel.

3. The Conference is being held back-to-back with the OECD’s Working Party on Biotechnology (WPB), chaired by Dr. Gerardo Jimenez Sanchez of Mexico.

The ESRC Genomics Network (EGN) is dedicated to examining the development and use of the science and technologies of genomics. The largest concentration of social scientific research on genomics in the world, EGN’s activities encompass the whole field of genomics, covering areas as diverse as DNA profiling and identity politics, plant and animal genetics, personal genomics, embryonic stem cell research and synthetic biology.

The Network consists of:

• Cesagen (Centre for Economic and Social Aspects of Genomics) a Cardiff-Lancaster University collaboration led by Professor Ruth Chadwick;

• Egenis (ESRC Centre for Genomics in Society) headed by Professor John Dupré at the University of Exeter;

• Innogen (ESRC Centre for Social and Economic Research on Innovation in Genomics) a collaboration between The University of Edinburgh and The Open University, directed by Professor David Wield;

• ESRC Genomics Policy and Research Forum, at the University of Edinburgh led by Professor Steve Yearley.

4. The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is the UK's largest funding agency for research and postgraduate training relating to social and economic issues. It supports independent, high quality research which impacts on business, the public sector and the third sector. The EGN, at £25 million, is one of the biggest social science investments in the ESRC’s current portfolio.


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