Beyond the Individual: People, Populations, Genetics

Date: Monday 27 April 2009
Time: 1:45 - 6:00PM
Venue: Convocation Room, Main Building, Room 218, The University of Hong Kong

Workshop PosterIn recent years, the gene has become a 'cultural icon'. Genetics has been widely promoted as furnishing a key to understanding human history, personality and destiny. There is an expectation that in the near future individual genetic profiles will provide a basis for prognostication and personalized medicine.

At the same time, however, genetic research is uncovering new complexities. Rather than elucidating relationships, DNA sequencing is challenging assumptions about the autonomous self by revealingevermore genetic variables that shape personality and behaviour, thereby calling into question the frameworks within which we continue to define and classify humans, both asindividuals, and in terms of the societal groups or genetic subsets to which individuals belong.

In Beyond the Individual biomedical scientists, policymakers, philosophers, ethicists and cultural commentators will explore the impact of genetics on the practical and conceptual reorganization of medicine, healthcare and society. Should individuals be treated as exemplars of population types or as unique sets of information for personalized medical care? And how should we begin to refocus medical practice and reassess the priorities for health in the genetics age?

Participants include the Vice-Chancellor, Prof Lap-Chee Tsui, Dr Ron Zimmern (Hughes Hall, Cambridge, and PHG Foundation), Prof Pak Sham (Psychiatry, HKU), Prof Richard Fielding (School of Public Health, HKU), Dr Yu-yueh Tsai (Institute of Sociology, Academia Sinica, Taipei), Prof Suet Yi Leung (Pathology, HKU), Prof Si Lok (Genome Research Centre, HKU), Dr Max Deutsch (Philosophy, HKU), Dr Dennis Ip (School of Public Health, HKU), Dr Robert Peckham (History, HKU). 

This event was generously supported by the History Endowment Fund.