The British Science Association wants to empower many more people – not just scientists – to constructively engage in debates over science’s role in their lives, their local economy, and the UK’s future.

To make sure these conversations are happening at a local level, we are working with our branches and other organisations on our Future Debates series, to run debates across the country. We want to find out what people think of a big issue in science and technology that could potentially have a significant impact on our society. Each year, Future Debates will focus on a particular issue. Our topic for this current series (spring/summer 2016) is genome data privacy.

Genome data privacy

A genome is an entire set of DNA; all the instructions for making every part of a living thing. Research into our genomes could improve our understanding of diseases, cancers and passing on certain traits. This research is called genomic medicine.

Genomic medicine is evolving quickly, and data is being collected on a group of patients with rare diseases and cancers across the UK. There’s large potential for the technology to help us create new treatments and preventative approaches.

Someone’s genome can explain lots of things about them, and we don’t yet understand all of what the genetic code means. This information therefore needs to be collected and stored securely, interpreted by experts and viewed in a way that protects the donor’s identity. There have been discussions among scientists about the implications of genomic medicine for privacy and the NHS, and the British Science Association believes that it is vital to open that conversation up to the public.

Upcoming Events

Past Events

Organise your own debate

We are offering event organisers grants of up to £300, in partnership with Genomics England, to run local events around the topic of genomics and data privacy. Events must take place between 30 April and 18 September 2016.

Download the grant criteria

Complete our short expression of interest form

As part of the Policy Networks project we ran in 2015, we created a Debate Pack, containing information on how to run debates of different styles. The pack also contains topic sheets from last year's policy debates - please note that your debate topic must relate to genome data privacy in order to qualify for funding.

Download the Debate Pack 

We have also created a downloadable speaker invitation template that organisers can use to invite experts to speak at their debates. 

Download the speaker invitation template

Additional resources

Audience invite template
Budget spreadsheet template
BSA logo pack
Genomics topic notes

Whether you're just considering running a debate or have one planned, please get in touch. We can help you find experts and can help publicise your debate. Please email catriona.sibert@britishscienceassociation.org for more information.

The British Science Association wants to empower more people to constructively engage in debates over science’s role in their lives and in the UK’s future. We hope that you will join us!