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Now over a decade old, the PFGS continues to be supported by the ESRC and Genomics Network in bringing together postgraduate researchers looking at ethical, legal and societal implications of advances in genomics and related emergent technologies. In the first newsletter, the PFGS outlined its organisational history and hopes for the future. We have archived this document here, since it acknowledges the support of several institutional bodies and persons influential in the establishment of this long-lived postgraduate network.

The Colloquia provide the opportunity for discussion and the presentation of material in a peer group. This page collates some of the recent history of the Forum, with reviews and photos, some of which are archived on this site. It is a work in progress, keep checking back as we’ll add resources when we can!

1998 Colloquium 1 : April 17th. The original meeting of the PFGS is recorded in the EASST Review, which we archive, here. Discussing issues of the 1990s such as Dolly and the HGDP, the 1998 meeting highlighted, in its own words, media representation and public perception of biotechnologies, the far-reaching issue of the geneticization of medical and social discourse, access to reproductive technologies, the philosophical discourse of molecular biology, the lived experience of genetic disorders, and the Human Genome Diversity Project.

1998 Colloquium 2: December 18th-19th. University College London.

This meeting was organised by Adam Hedgecoe and hosted by the Department of Science and Technology Studies at University College London.Presentations were given by Jane Gow, Adam Hedgecoe, Amade M’charek, Shaun Pattinson, Niall Scott & Richard Tutton. Titles of their papers are available here. Other participants included Wan Ching Yee, Sandra Parsons, Sandra Squires, Sahra Gibbon, Claudia Downing & Julie Farrell.The report, by Niall Scott of Lancaster University, is available here

1999 Colloquium 3 : September 6th-7th, University of the West of England.

This meeting was organised by Sandra Parsons and Wan Ching Yee and hosted by the Sci-Tec Unit in the faculty of Economics and Social Sciences at UWE. It was held in conjunction with the ESRC New Genetics Seminar Series session: ‘Literacy, Public Understanding and the Media’.Presentations were given by Sahra Gibbon, Adam Hedgecoe, Iina Hellsten, Amade M’charek, Ruth McNally, Shaun Pattinson, Matthew Reed, Andrea Steiner, & Richard Tutton. Their abstracts are available here. Other participants included Wan Ching Yee and Sandra Parsons.

2000 Colloquium 4 : June 26th -27th, Sheffield Institute for Biotechnological Law and Ethics.

This meeting was organised by Shaun Pattinson and Mark Taylor, and was hosted by the Sheffield Institute for Biotechnological Law and Ethics (SIBLE).

Presentations were given by Claudia Downing, Sahra Gibbon, Iina Hellsten, Baerbel Mauss, Ainsley Newson, Carlos Novas, Peter Odell, Shaun Pattinson, Phil Roberts, Jnr, Harald Schmidt, Mark Taylor, and Richard Tutton. Their abstracts are available here.

Other participants included Alia Ahmed, Sally Amanuel, Jennifer Bostock, Oongah Corrigan, Filippa Corneliussen, Peter Coy, Jo Ford, Rachel Grellier, Georgina Haarhoff, Adam Hedgecoe, Jane Kaye, Nicola Lindsey, Sarah Parry, David Patton, Natasha Semmens, & Darren Shickle

The 2000 meeting, the Fourth Colloquium, was reviewed by Ainsley Newson in New Genetics and Society, which focused on the role of biological and genetic information, regulatory responses to genetics, genetic information and decision making, and the cultural context of genetics. You can read his full review here.

2001 Colloquium 5 : June 20th-21st. Institute for the Study of Genetics, Biorisks and Society. University of Nottingham. Summarised here, presentations were given by Mavis Jones, Filippa Corneliussen, James Mittra, Emma Williamson, Klaus Høyer, Harald Schmidt, Anne Wilkinson, Sarah Cassidy, Jennifer Bostock, Melanie Pearce, Georgina Haarhoff, Caroline Benjamin, Lotte Huniche, Sahara Gibbon, Carlos Novas, Sara Skobdo and Vajira Dissanayake. Their abstracts are available here.

2002 Colloquium 6 : September 10th-12th, Sidney Sussex College, University of Cambridge. ‘Ethical Issues in the New Genetics’

2003 Colloquium 7 : August 20th-22nd, SPRU, University of Sussex. Hope, Hype and Hysteria : Living with Genetic Uncertainty. A report on the Sussex based event is available here. This was a very international conference, with delegates from Estonia, Ghana, Canada and the Netherlands.

2004 Colloquium 8 : September 1-3rd, Egenis, University of Exeter. Profits, Politics and Publics : disputed boundaries in genetics. Presentations were given by Anne Gatensby, Michael Hopkins, Kean Birch, Katya Tugendsam, Barbro Bjorkman, J. Martin Pedersen, Clare Wilkinson, Miguel Alcibar, John Sung, Adam Bostanci, Alison Harvey, Ingrid Holme, George Kossi, Sara Melendro. There were also keynotes from Professor Emilio Munoz, Ann Kerr, Paul Martin, and Alex Plows, The full programme is available here.

2005 Colloquium 9 : August 31st – September 2nd, Cardiff University. The Genetic Information Age. This well attended colloquium saw 30 postgraduate presentations from Andrew Bartlett, Miguel Garcia-Sancho, Bart Penders, Jamie Lewis, Shirlene Badger, Megan Clinch, Aryn Martin, Conor Douglas, Ingrid Geesink, David Larsen, Chris Hamilton, Adam Bostanci, Rebecca Hanlin, Adele Langlois, Matthew Harsh, Chamu Kuppuswamy, Yog Upadhyay, Anne Dijkstra, Grace Reid, Kean Birch, Jane Miller, Kate Weiner. Guest speakers included Jon Turney, Andrew Webster, Kate Stewart, Bruce Mason, Joan Haran, Ian Brewis, Jane Calvert, Katie Featherstone and Buddug Williams. A full report was published in Genomics, Society and Policy 2005, Vol. 1, No.3, Report, pp.82-86, available here. The original CFP is here.

2006 Colloquium 10: August 31st- September 1st, University of York. Implications and Implementations : The Meaning and Use of our Research.

The Call for papers :  its 8th year, the Postgraduate Forum on Genetics and Society offers an opportunity for new researchers to share work in progress, establish links for future collaboration, and develop skills for further work in the area of life sciences and society. While the core of this year’s meeting will continue to be made up of paper presentations from fellow postgraduates (in which constructive feedback by peers can be given), a central feature of upcoming meeting in York will be the ‘user’ workshops. It can be discouraging for PhD students to think that they could spend years on a piece of research, and at the end of it all that research makes little impact outside of academic circles. With the theme of the York meeting being Implications and Implementations: The Meaning and Use of Our Research, we envision workshops that would team-up PFGS members with patient groups, advocacy organizations, industry, policy makers/regulators, NGOs, and others (all working in genetics related areas) so that the attendees might gain insight into how their research could make a difference in practice. Concurrently, this would provide attendees more opportunities to disseminate their work to a wide and diverse audience. Furthermore, this interaction would hopefully enrich the work of attendees by providing them new insights from potential ‘users’ of their research. On-top of these workshops, one of the founding members of the PFGS (Dr. Richard Tutton, University of Nottingham IGBIS) will be giving a keynote opening address about the history, spirit and tradition of the PFGS, and a skills training session will also take place that will be specific to those working around the areas of life sciences and society.

2007Colloquium 11: 27th March PFGS Plenary at the CESAGen Conference “Perspectives on the Futures of Genetics with in Society : A panel with the PFGS”. The abstract for this session

In line with the CESAGen conference theme of ‘Retrospects and Prospects’, the panel discussion focuses on the futures of Genetics in Society. The format of the panel will consist of an opening presentation by the PFGS representative (5-10 minutes) detailing some of the current work being conducted by PFGS members and demonstrating why the PFGS is in a good position to debate on the prospects of work in this area. Each of the other panel members will then make their own short presentation (5 to 10 minutes) outlining their specific vision of the possible futures for genetics related research. The panel will address issues such as:

  • developing new skills for emerging technologies 
  • key and emerging areas of interest
  •  future social, political and economic implications 
  • potential funding initiatives and markets for publications

An open discussion in response to the presentations will then be conducted between the panellists and the audience (which will include PFGS members) in a Question & Answer format. This session is being organised by the PFGS postgraduate network as a regular plenary session open to all conference attendees.

The speakers were Alastair Kent, Director of the Genetic Interest Group (GIG), Jamie Lewis, member of PFGS and a PhD candidate at CESAGen, and Paul Martin, Reader in STS, University of Nottingham, Christine Patch of the Human Genetics Commission (HGC), Desmond Turner, MP, Member of Science and Technology Select Committee, and Jessica Watkin, Biomedical Ethics Policy Advisor, Medical Humanities at the Wellcome Trust. It was chaired by the then PFGS chairman, Conor Douglas.

From 2008-2013, the PFGS focused its energies on holding one-day regional meetings, which took a theme and drew researchers to talk about their current projects in an informal and supportive atmosphere. These were highly successful, and kept the community of researchers connected. 2013 sees the first two-day colloquium in several years.

2009 Regional Meeting: Perspectives on PGD 

Venue: Clore Management Centre, Birbeck College, University of London Date: Friday 20th November 2009 10:00 – 5:00

Organised by Sharon Persaud.  Morning Session: Legal and Theoretical perspectives -Peter Lovett, Birkbeck College – Law’s involvement with Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis & questions of enhancement: an alternative stance -Sharon Persaud, Birkbeck College – Saviour siblings & the law: has Luhmann anything useful to say? Afternoon Session: Social and Bioethical perspectives -Haniwarda Yaakob, University of Lancaster – Individual Reproductive Autonomy in Malaysia: Why Couples Should be Allowed to Use Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis to Select the Sex of Their Child -Ann-Marie Jones, Liverpool Hope University – The Disability Rights Perspective on PGD This day-long workshop aims to be a participative expertise-building event for post-graduates, with a mix of presentations, workshops and ample time for discussion.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. 30 March 2013 10:28

    Excellent work on putting the blog together. Nice to read back through the history and to see the PFGS is still going strong. Keep up the good work.

  2. rdouglasjones permalink*
    30 March 2013 10:57

    Thanks Jamie. If you have anything to add, or would be willing to be part of our “Interview with Alums” series, just drop us a line!

  3. 15 April 2013 19:01

    Yes sure! Happy to do a short interview.


  1. Interviews with Alums : Conor Douglas « Postgraduate Forum on Genetics and Society

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