From Socialising the Genome

Socialising the Genome: Ann McPherson Memorial Lecture 2016

Anna was invited to give this lecture to HEXI (The Oxford Health Experiences Institute) and it was held at Green Templeton College at Oxford University

Socialising the Genome: Ann McPherson Memorial Lecture 2016

10th October 2016

Presentation Abstract:

The ability to study our genes, the basic units of heredity, is transforming medicine. However recent research has discovered a major stumbling block: only a minority of the British public understands and can relate to even the simplest of terms used in genetics. Because this problem could threaten to blunt the impact of genetics-based medicine – the Socialising the Genome project was designed. Anna will discuss her research and endeavours to turn genomics from (what is for many) an anti-social concept (‘I won’t understand it’, ‘I didn’t do science at school’) to a more social concept. She will explore her work with advertising experts, to create a series of evidence-based animations to explore different ways to help the general public start conversations about genetics (e.g. trying out socially acceptable words like ‘glitch’ in replacement for ‘variant’). She will also discuss and share the films she has created to bring the public to her research about DNA and Big Data. Being able to contribute to current discussions about genomics requires researchers to make the dialogue accessible, even using the simplest of genomics terminology has the capacity to alienate the very people they want to engage. ‘Socialising the Genome’ is a frame of mind that permeates Anna’s approach to research, it is grounded in her clinical experience of working directly with families in the NHS as a genetic counsellor.

About HEXI (The Oxford Health Experiences Institute):

HEXI is a unique, interdisciplinary research institute dedicated to the understanding of experiences of health, illness and healthcare, using this understanding to transform care through influencing policy, practice and education.

The Institute is a joint initiative between the University’s Department of Primary Care Health Sciences and Green Templeton College. It is founded on relationships between key research groups within the University, bringing together different research approaches. The Health Experiences Research Group (HERG) and the Health Services Research Group (HSRU) are the core of this collaboration.



Middleton A (2016) Socialising the Genome. Invited Ann McPherson Memorial Lecture. Green Templeton College, 10th October, Oxford