In addition to these sessions, there was a panel about the current issues in genetic diversity, and how we can address these, hosted by Vivienne Parry, Head of Engagement at Genomics England. This consisted of Sasha Henriques, a Principal Genetic Counsellor and PhD student at Connecting Science and Sanger, Kye Gbangbola, Chair of the Sickle Cell Society, Dr Saghira Malik Sharif, Principal Genetic Counsellor, and Dr Mavis Machirori, Senior Researcher at the Ada Lovelace Institute. Delving into what we mean by genetic diversity, how we understand and start to address the current issues, this incredibly interesting conversation was a great start to the day. Key discussion points included institutional barriers to diversity, whether certain conditions are prioritised for research, a lack of trust in research, and how research funders could influence change.
Professor Anna Middleton from Wellcome Connecting Science and Julian Barro, Creative Strategist, hosted a session on public trust in science and research, discussing the need to ensure that science is communicated effectively and new methods are needed for science outreach. The overarching take away from this session was the responsibility that we all have to be open and clear about the research that we are doing, and to listen to and involve those who are impacted.
While we still have many policy challenges to overcome in order to fully realise the potential in genomics, it was a pleasure to attend and support this conference and lead some of these much-needed conversations.