Embargo: Immediate Thursday 28 February 2008
Contact: Owen Williams 020 7219 8659


The House of Lords Science and Technology Committee has today published a call for evidence for a new inquiry into genomic medicine.

The publication in 2001 of the complete DNA sequence of the human genome heralded a new age in science and medicine. Recent advances in technology are making it possible to carry out genome-wide comparison studies with the prospect of finding out what variations in our genomes make us more susceptible to certain complex common diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer. However the science is still in its early stages and the Committee is seeking to identify the state of progress in genomic medical research and how its translation into clinical practice can be facilitated.

The Committee is inviting any interested parties to submit evidence to its inquiry. Some areas of interest to the Committee include:

Policy Framework

  • Who is in charge of setting and reviewing policy? Who monitors scientific development in this area?

  • Does the existing regulatory and advisory framework provide for optimal development and translation of new technologies?

  • In what ways is science and clinical policy-making informed by social, ethical and legal considerations?

Research and Scientific Development

  • What is the state of the science and what is the rate of change?

  • How effective is policy and investment framework in supporting research in this area? How does the UK compare internationally?

  • What are the current research priorities and what is the role of industry?

Data Use and Interpretation

  • Should there be a common public database of genomic information?

  • What are the potential implications for data security and privacy?

Use of Genomic Information in Healthcare

  • What impact will genomic information have on the classification of disease?

  • How useful will genomic information be as part of individualised medical advice?

  • Should there be a regulatory code covering the provision of this advice?

Commenting Lord Patel, who will chair the Sub-Committee on Genomic Medicine, said:

"Genomic medicine may be in its infancy but it will clearly have a huge impact on the way health care is delivered over the next few decades.

"We have heard many ambitious predictions of the positive impact genomic medicine could have on a whole range of complex common diseases. Our inquiry will seek to identify what exactly is the state of genomic medical research both within the UK and world-wide.

"We will look at this issue in great detail and we would invite written evidence from any individuals or organisations who feel they can contribute to our inquiry."

Notes to Editors

  1. The full Call for Evidence can be found at:

  2. The deadline for the submission of written evidence is 21 April 2008.