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Genomics Forum · News

Bio-hackers, mad scientists and society’s influence on our genetics to be debated at Edinburgh International Book Festival 2012



Genomics Forum delighted to develop three events as part of this year's Book Festival programme.


The benefits and dangers of biohacking; the reasons why fiction often portrays scientists as evil geniuses; and the impact that society and upbringing can have upon human genetics, are amongst the fascinating topics that will be debated during this year’s Edinburgh International Book Festival.

These subjects are at the centre of three scientifically and sociologically themed events being supported and co-produced by the ESRC Genomics Policy and Research Forum, which has been a major sponsor of the Edinburgh International Book Festival since 2006.

Taking place this August at the Book Festival in Edinburgh’s Charlotte Square Gardens, the events will feature a number of renowned authors including Sophie McKenzie, award-winning writer of the Medusa Project and Blood Ties series of books for young people; Ben Hammersley, editor of the “technologists’ bible” Wired magazine; and Nessa Carey, author of The Epigenetics Revolution. The panels for each event will also feature internationally renowned scientists and science communicators.

Speaking following the launch of the Edinburgh International Book Festival 2012 programme, Professor Steve Yearley, Director of the Genomics Forum, said:

“The ESRC Genomics Forum is delighted to once again be supporting the Edinburgh International Book Festival and working with it to produce a number of events which examine fascinating aspects of the interactions between science and society. The life sciences have an increasingly palpable impact on our lives and culture, and the events with which the Forum is involved are designed to reflect this.

"For example, as technology becomes ever cheaper and more readily available, it’s possible for people to set up “garage” biology labs that could produce scientific breakthroughs, or potentially be used for more sinister purposes. Advances in epigenetics indicate that social conditions may not only significantly impact someone’s own predisposition to health problems - such as obesity - but even the ways in which the genes of their children express relevant traits. And with science bringing so many benefits to society, why is it the case that literature so frequently portrays the scientist as an evil genius?"

Read the full media release:

Genomics Forum developed events at this year's Book Festival are:

Monday 13 August

19:00- 20:15

Saturday 18 August

19:00- 20:15

Wednesday 22 August


Tickets for the above, and other Book Festival events, can be purchased from the Edinburgh International Book Festival website, and will be available from Friday 29 June 2012.


Extract from the cover of the Book Festival programme 2012