Nobel Laureates and Experts Gather to Discuss Genetics and Society

Sep 24, 2012, 08:00 ET from Nobel Media AB

STOCKHOLM, September 24, 2012 /PRNewswire/ --

As our knowledge of genetics and genomics steadily expands and the potential applications of this understanding multiply, it becomes more and more urgent to address the societal implications of these developments. At a unique gathering in Stockholm on 9 December 2012, Nobel Laureates, prominent scientists, key policy makers and opinion leaders will review the current and future prospects for areas such as personalised medicine, genetically modified organisms and human evolution.  With the theme of "The Genetic Revolution and its Impact on Society", this free public conference called Nobel Week Dialogue, will be devoted to reviewing the past 50 years of progress in genetics and genomics and looking towards current and future trends.

Key Topics and Participants

What have the last 50 years of progress in genetics taught us about what to expect in the future?

Can healthcare systems adapt to take advantage of the potential of personalized medicine?

How well do we understand how to manipulate gene expression and what are the consequences of this understanding?

These are some of the questions which will be discussed in a series of thought-provoking sessions and working groups. Participating Nobel Laureates include Bruce Beutler (2011), Steven Chu (1997), Joseph Goldstein (1985), Craig Mello (2006), Daniel McFadden (2000), Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard (1995) and James Watson (1962).  The 2012 Nobel Laureates will also be invited to attend.

Bruce Beutler, 2011 Nobel Laureate in Medicine says, "The information required to make a complex organism, such as a living person, resides within a few picograms of DNA in the nucleus of every cell. And much of what befalls us as individuals, for better or worse, is at least strongly influenced, if not foretold outright, by this subtle essence. A bit over 50 years ago, we began to understand how the information carried in DNA might be interpreted. Our understanding has grown quite sophisticated, and particularly in recent years, our ability to access DNA sequence has grown enormously. It is a good moment to count our gains, to explain them as best we can, and to consider what new barriers must be overcome."

Helga Nowotny, President of the European Research Council says, "The question before us is how to share the spectacular developments in the life sciences with wider society. Sharing is more than communicating. It means creating common ground that, even if contested, can also reassure and create trust. One often neglected instrument to achieve common ground is the law. It functions to stabilize relations between humans and their mutual expectations, although the objects to be mediated are biological entities or assemblages.I am glad to see that the upcoming event will provide an opportunity to discuss the social and legal issues around genetics."

Some of the experts include Mary-Claire King, President of the American Society of Human Genetics, Eric Lander, founder of the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, John Dupré, Director of the ESRC Centre for Genomics in Society and Janet Woodcock, Director of the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research at the Food and Drug Administration.  For a complete list of participants, see:

This free conference takes place on Sunday, 9 December 2012 at the Stockholm City Conference Centre and is open to the general public. Students are particularly encouraged to participate in these unique discussions.  A live webcast of the conference will also be accessible.

Registration is now open, please visit:

Follow Nobel Week Dialogue on Facebook:

Or Twitter: @nobelweekdialog #NobelWeekDialogue #genetics

About Nobel Week Dialogue

During the annual Nobel Week, held each December in Stockholm, the current year's Nobel Laureates participate in a whirlwind of events and activities leading up to 10 December, when they receive their Nobel Prize and attend the Nobel Banquet. This year, the roster of activities has been expanded to include a new conference: Nobel Week Dialogue.

The goal of this conference is to foster discussion at the highest level on a topical, science-related theme by bringing together Nobel Laureates, the world's leading scientists, key opinion leaders and policy makers and different interest groups for a series of discussion sessions and working groups.

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