The New Age of Genomics

From News Extras

Scientists are trying to solve wicked problems.

The human genome project which provided a genetic blueprint for building a human being, was a starting point for researchers to discover the genetic basis for health and the pathology of human diseases.

Left to right: Colin Gavaghan, Susan Morton, Peter Dearden and Adam Rutherford.

Left to right: Colin Gavaghan, Susan Morton, Peter Dearden and Adam Rutherford. Photo: Supplied/ New Zealand Festival

But 13 years on from the completion of the sequencing project, the hopes of curing diseases and creating medicines for specific genetic makeups are far from being realised.  


Add to this the possibility that genetic information could eventually be used to choose a child’s sex, influence insurers' decisions, or even as evidence for criminal intent and an ethical debate around whether it should be is spawned.

BBC 4 science presenter and geneticist Dr Adam Rutherford discusses these issues with a panel of scientists, researchers, and legal experts.

Panel Members

  • Professor Colin Gavaghan: Inaugural Director of the New Zealand Law Foundation Centre for Law & Policy in Emerging Technologies at the University of Otago.
  • Associate Professor Susan Morton: the Director of the Growing Up in New Zealand longitudinal study of New Zealand children and families, based at the University of Auckland.
  • Professor Peter Dearden: the Director of Genetics at the University of Otago

This audio was recorded at  Embassy Theatre, Wellington, for the New Zealand Festival Writers Week on 13 March 2016.

The Gene Genie series is a collaboration between The Dodd-Walls Centre, Genetics Otago, MedTech Core, New Zealand Festival, NZ Genomics Ltd, Royal Society of New Zealand and Te Pūnaha Matatini.