Welcome to the Genomics Forum blog

Based at The University of Edinburgh, the ESRC Genomics Policy and Research Forum is part of the ESRC Genomics Network and pioneers new ways to promote and communicate social research on the contemporary life sciences.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

NeuroEthics Film Festival asks whether or not we are zombies

Blog by Dr. Calum MacKellar, Director of Research - Scottish Council on Human Bioethics

Do we have free will, or is our behaviour ultimately controlled by our biological brains? Does morality actually exist? Recent advances in our understanding of neurobiology have raised a number of ethical questions for human beings.

Using a number of films including the 1962 film entitled The Manchurian Candidate where Frank Sinatra plays the role of a man whose mind and free will may be controlled by others and the film Clockwork Orange, a neuroethics film festival was organised between the 23-25 November 2012 at the Edinburgh Filmhouse. The event was organise in partnership with: (1) the Scottish Council on Human Bioethics , (2) the Edinburgh Filmhouse, (3) The ESRC Genomics Policy and Research Forum and (4) the Mason Institute, Law School, The University of Edinburgh.

The film festival sought to address some of these questions in post-film discussions with the general public and a number of expert panellists. The issues included whether the responsibility of an individual actually exist? If it doesn¹t what are then the consequences for our legal systems and the manner in which human beings see themselves. Could they just be considered as biological robots or

Participants were then able to engage with some of the issues raised by new discoveries in neurobiology and the ethical implications which result from them. One question that kept recurring in the debates was whether it is better to know the truth or to be happy. What would you choose?

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Genomics Network storyboard

by Lindsay Goodall - Documentary Filmmaker in Residence

Overview below, click on individual boards for a zoomed in version!

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Opportunities and challenges in the “age of biology"

Keynote Address: The 21st Century ‐ the Age of Biology

Blog from Global Forum On Biotechnology - The Evolving Promise Of The Life Sciences

The Genomics Forum and OECD-produced “Global Forum” conference; entitled The Evolving Promise of the LifeSciences, took place in Paris on 12 November 2012.  The Global Forum set out to explore the changing perceptions of what the biotechnology revolution has delivered during the last 30 years, and the impact current perspectives might have on the future evolution of the life sciences.

The event commenced with a keynote address from Professor Anne Glover, Chief Scientific Advisor to the President of the European Commission, on The 21st Century – Age of Biology.  In setting the scene for the subjects the Global Forum would deliberate, Professor Glover – who has a background in molecular and cell biology – recognised the importance of considering where both science and society is positioned in terms of biotechnology and what the future might bring.

Professor Glover identified that historically, each of the last few centuries had been recognised for developments in philosophy and technological thinking, with the 19th century being the age of engineering and the 20th century the age of chemistry and physics.  The technological developments during these times brought benefits to society, although many of these – such as the internal combustion engine – were initially seen as being provocative and even dangerous.

What did the future look like in the past?

Plenary One: Retrospective – The Role of Expectations in Biotech Developments 

Blog from Global Forum On Biotechnology - The Evolving Promise Of The Life Sciences

What did the future look like in the past? Can we go back to describe innocently what the future looked like and how it turned out? Are we conscious of the ways that past futures didn’t work out? These were a few of the questions put forward by Steve Yearley whilst chairing the first plenary session of the Genomics Forum/OECD Global Forum on The Evolving Promise of the Life Sciences. The session looked at understanding the economic and social expectations of biotech over the last thirty years.

Robert Cook-Deegan began making a loose analogy comparing developments in the IT/internet industry with biotech, suggesting that biotechnology is shifting in the direction of an information science. Both the internet and genome technology grew out of government funding aimed at solving particular problems.  The first IT customers were usually government customers who required great big machines good at counting things i.e. the first computer bought was for the US census. In contrast the Human Genome Project arose after a debate in the 1980’s with a government driven effort to understand disease and the first customers for early products were research labs undertaking research into molecular biology.  Both IT and biotech were viewed as “hot” technologies, leading to government action to kick-start their wider development.

However, as IT and biotech have developed, whereas the IT big guns of Apple and Microsoft helped shape policy and frame issues the same has not yet happened with their biotech equivalents. Yet  the future of biotechnology will be different to the past: it will probably look more like the history and business models of IT. Looking at Moore’s law; i.e. chip technology gets twice as good every 18 months – essentially technologies once thought of as being restricted because their costs were prohibitive become ubiquitous.  In biotechnology, the first genome map cost over $1 billion to generate and now it costs c. $1,000.

Convergence and Divergence

Plenary Two: Health and Biomedicine in an Age of Convergence

Blog from Global Forum On Biotechnology - The Evolving Promise Of The Life Sciences

Convergence and divergence were key themes of this OECD session on Monday morning which anticipated genomics developments in health and biomedicine.  Vicky Seyfert-Margolis (Senior Advisor for Science Innovation and Policy, FDA) spoke about the FDA's mandate to promote innovation to public health within the context of an innovation ecosystem that is under significant stress.  Seyfert-Margolis attributed this, in part, to a flawed model of translation which focuses too much on the academic drivers of tenure and promotion which reward an individual rather than team-based efforts: a different, portfolio approach is needed to get products to market.  She argued that regulatory science is under-served as an academic discipline and that we need better tools for translation which force us to think harder and smarter about how to move the academy and government forward together in a way that involves patients - not as human research subjects - but as engaged partners.

Hans-Georg Eichler (EMA) described technology and policy as uneasy bed fellows.  He too spoke about the need to bring the patient voice on board but reminded the audience that patients and consumers constitute fundamentally different categories with different priorities and perspectives. In his view, clinical development is expensive because we use antiquated technology.  This was a case where we could make better use of existing tools and greater use of electronic trials but this would require better alignment - convergence - of technology and policy.

Industrial Biotechnology and the Emerging Bioeconomy

Plenary Three: Biotechnology of the Future - Industrial Biotechnology and Synthetic Biology

Blog from Global Forum On Biotechnology - The Evolving Promise Of The Life Sciences

The third plenary session of the conference focused on industrial biotechnology in the context of the emerging bioeconomy. Chaired by James Philp of the OECD, the session featured speakers from the Russian Federation, Brazil, the Netherlands, and the UK. A key theme to emerge from this panel was how the specificities of the seemingly global ‘bioeconomy’ are influenced by geographies, histories, and government policies at the national level. For example, Russia and Brazil are large countries with plenty of arable land for growing biomass, while the biomass potential of Britain and the Netherlands is much more constrained. These factors are contributing to the development of different national strategies for promoting industrial biotechnology.

Vladimir Popov from the Bakh Institute of Biochemistry outlined prospects for the bioeconomy in the Russian Federation. With a huge landmass, 20% of the world’s forest resources and plenty of water, Russia could become an increasingly important producer (and exporter) of biomass. Their biotech sector is currently small (less than 1% of GDP), but recent initiatives (including a 2012 State coordination program for biotechnology development until 2020) are placing strategic emphasis on the bioeconomy. Priority areas for development include agbiotech, forest biotechnology, and environmental protection, but interestingly not biofuels. (Despite a long history of creative methods for extracting alcohol from plants, as Popov pointed out!) This is in part owing to geopolitical considerations, with Russia relying heavily on oil both domestically and as an export commodity. At this stage, government intervention in the form of subsidies and legislation is seen as critical for getting a bioeconomy off the ground.

The Evolving Promise of Marine Biotechnology

Plenary Four: The Evolving Promise of Marine Biotechnology

Blog from Global Forum On Biotechnology - The Evolving Promise Of The Life Sciences

The fourth session of the The Evolving Promise of the Life Sciences Global Forum focused on both the potential and challenges presented by biotechnology from the marine environment.

As session chair Steiner Bergseth – Research Council of Norway - noted in his introductory remarks that whilst marine biotechnology may not yet be in the mainstream, it offers significant promise in terms of delivery of new medicines, novel compounds, food production, and biofuels.  Ninety per cent of the global biosphere is marine, but remains largely unexplored, so may well contain organisms that could be the “engine” to drive advances in biotech.  However, future exploitation of the marine environment needs to be undertaken both sustainably and equitably. 

Rachel Ritchie – University of British Columbia, Canada – further set the scene by providing more detail on the promise of marine biotechnology – which can be defined as “the use of marine organisms as a source or target of biotech”.  The promise of marine biotech covers almost every imaginable field, potentially offering solutions to global grand challenges including: health; food; sustainable energy; industrial products; and tools to manage and protect the ocean’s resources.

Invasive Pathogens and Infectious Diseases

Plenary Five: Emerging Pathogens in the Environment

Blog from Global Forum On Biotechnology - The Evolving Promise Of The Life Sciences

Invasive pathogens and infectious diseases have been with us through the ages from the bubonic plague to the yellow fever outbreak in the US to the more recent SARS and H1N1 swine flu pandemics. But with increasing global travel and trade, invasive pathogens are ever emerging and are ever more threatening.

The truth is that we don’t know what exists and we need to create models and policies to deal with those threats that we cannot prevent.

How can we translate emerging information into effective and pragmatic public policy? And how can it be done without limiting prosperity through trade and travel?

These were the questions posed by Professor David Ingram as the chair of Plenary Five: Emerging Pathogens in the Environment.

The first speaker was Professor Jan Semenza from the ECDC (European Centre for Disease Control). Professor Semenza began by giving the audience a bit of background about the ECDC. The ECDC was set up in the wake of the SARS pandemic when Europe realised that it couldn’t solely depend on the US’ CDC in the fight against infectious diseases. As a public health agency, the ECDC has a specific mandate covering infectious disease control, especially cross border infection potential. It monitors infectious diseases in Europe and all EU member states must report specific outbreaks and prevalence of certain conditions to ECDC. The ECDC is also tasked to give scientific advice in the wake of infectious disease situations.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

IB3 at The Revolution will be Bio-Based

Blog by Paul Dalgarno, IB3 at Heriot Watt University

It was a great privilege for myself and my colleagues from the Institute of Biological Chemistry, Biophysics and Bioengineering (IB3) and the Centre for Marine Biodiversity and Biotechnology (CMBB) to take part in the ESRC “The Revolution will be Bio-Based” public exhibition on Saturday 10 November. As a research led institute our work at Heriot-Watt University is based on asking, and occasionally answering, fundamental questions on biology and marine conversation. However, this event allowed us, and the visitors, to explore some of the wider reaching aspects of our work and the impact it has had, or may have, on economics, culture and society in general.

The IB3 team are at the forefront of inter-disciplinary research in cell biology, using genes from fluorescent marine organisms, such as the luminescence sea anemone on display, to probe proteins inside living cells. By combining this state-of-the-art cell biology with input from physicists, mathematician and engineers we push the limits of cellular imaging and microscopy. Our exhibition demonstrated the huge impact that fluorescence proteins and gene technology has had on modern biological science, an impact that cannot be underestimated. It led to the 2008 Chemistry Nobel price and a global industry which is now at the heart of modern biological science. It was a pleasure to discuss with the public the underlying science, importance and the role fluorescence has had on our research and biological science in general.

Our exhibition, generously supported by the Medical Research Council (MRC), and Leica Microsytems, who provided a state-of-the art fluorescence microscope for public demonstration, was split into three sections. First researchers from CMBB had the living example of a naturally fluorescent sea anemone sourced from local Fife waters. Along with a touch tank of local marine life (starfish, crabs and shrimps) this display highlighted the importance of cold water marine conservation. The fluorescent microscope provided by Leica allowed members of the public to look at fluorescently labeled cancer cells, which proved to be very popular. Finally custom-made exhibits explained bio-fluorescence and the physics behind 3-dimensional imaging techniques being developed in IB3. Together these displays took members of the public from marine biology to optical physics in three short steps.

IB3 and CMBB regularly take part in public outreach activities, which are essential so that scientists can get out of the lab and explain what they do to the public, who in many cases fund this type of research. However this event offered much more than the typical demonstrations: by encouraging us to discuss with the public the role our research has had, or may have, economically and culturally. It was a true pleasure to engage with interested members from the public, from all backgrounds and ages. All the volunteers greatly enjoyed the experience but more importantly the public seemed to enjoy the day.

The event was a great success and we would like to thank the organizers, the visitors, the other exhibitors and the speakers for making this so and we look forward to seeing you at our next outreach event.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

In-Vitro meat - Gauging the yuck factor...

by Cameron Duguid - Documentary Filmmaker in Residence

Our research trip was fascinating, with a spectrum of interesting topics discussed, it seems a shame to inadequately summarise the whole thing.

After talking with Neil Stephens and watching his talk on in-vitro meat, for me, the argument for its development has only become more complex, with many grey areas adding to this. For example- how do you gauge the yuck factor? With food being such a subjective area, it will definitely be influenced by being figuratively and literally a matter of taste. Personally there are many things that contribute to the ickyness, however, I’m only going to focus on one, partly because it’s the one thing/phrase that has stuck in my mind, but also, it’s for just that reason that it’s important. After 3 days of information overload, with such complex interconnected topics, phrases and acronyms can easily be glossed over, even if they are of great importance.

Fetal Bovine Serum

It has been proposed that this month, at a date that seems to be pretty closely guarded, the first in-vitro burger will be eaten. The cells to be formed into a burger, as with most lab-grown animal cells, are currently grown on Fetal Bovine Serum. Possibilities in using a type of algae as a growing medium have been proposed. At present cells are often sensitive to differences between batches of FBS, a transition can be made mixing some of the present serum with the new serum as an intermediary stage. However, if this small transition is sensitive, then the extension to growing on algae seems a bit of a leap.

To obtain ‘FBS’ there is a need for extensively farmed cows, as only a proportion will happen to be pregnant at the time of slaughter. So the current techniques in cell culture don’t seem too harmonious with both the animal welfare/meat alternative side, and environmental concerns with land use, water and gas emissions.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Blogger’s Block

by Lindsay Goodall - Documentary Filmmaker in Residence

I have been a bit blocked recently when I’ve tried to write my blog. I think it’s because I’ve been so busy over the past few weeks. I’ve been to a convergence workshop, a STIS seminar on Syngenta, the Innogen coffee morning, a Changing World lecture, an anthropology seminar on sperm banks in China, I’ve been reading a lot and trying to participate as much as possible. Now the challenge is to wade through all this new-found information to find some clarity and focus. Yet the more I discover the more I need to know, and the research phase of my residency could easily continue exponentially. I sympathise with the scientists working on the ENCODE Project. How do you know when to stop searching for new information and start to process the raw data?

While carrying out my research, I’ve become as fascinated by academia as I am with all things genomics, and surprisingly I’ve realised there are so many similarities between university life and the film and TV industry. For example, there is the constant pressure to seek funding, produce new work and keep on top of new developments and technology; the uncertainty about where your next project or commission will come from or where it will be based; there is a need to network and make contacts both locally and internationally; and there are lots of opportunities to travel and work with new partners and collaborators.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Behind the scenes..

by Cameron Duguid - Documentary Filmmaker in Residence

'Topographies of the Genome' - Deborah Robinson
Well, how time flies with so much is going on- I’m a good few steps behind with this!

After a hectic 3 day trip to Lancaster, Cardiff and Exeter my mind is buzzing. A wide range of enlightening and thought provoking meetings, and a great chance to see sequencing in action. I’ll write more on our trip once my flitting thoughts have settled a little!

Over the previous weeks it has been inspiring to talk with and attend seminars by Deborah Robinson with interesting ideas on engaging with science in art. Of huge relevance to me as I feel that, having started off at art college, I have moved away from the open artistic projects I worked on in college, towards more conventional documentary making and science communication- less critical and not drawing in an abstracted ways from science and scientists. I have a tendency to get caught up in trying to find ways to illustrate molecular goings on, rather than outwardly observing.

I've visited a few labs in different countries, and have definitely subconsciously assessed their cleanliness (Lausanne- super clean: closer to home- possibly less so! Although I may have been influenced by bad decor and a lack sparkling stainless steel) However, actually thinking of the dust under a lab machine as a subject for art, as with Deborah's Genomic Dirt project I find really inspiring. That kind of more divergent thinking is really interesting, and in no small way part of a picture of the daily life of scientists.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Photographing the Genomics Forum..

by Georgina Wood
Genomics Forum, Photographer in Residence

Working with the Genomics Forum was a great opportunity for me to continue my practice after graduating from ECA.

During the residency I attended several different events organised by the Forum and was able to learn a lot about Genomics and the Forums work. At the start of the residency I researched several different areas. Once I had a clearer idea of the current topics and the work that the forum carried out, I was able to narrow down my research and base my ideas around one topic.

I was interested in the current and future status of Bio-fuels and their expected contributions towards renewable energy. It was clear from my research that Bio-fuels were not a problem free answer to our energy demands, however with future developments it seemed that it could be possible to improve on current sources of Bio-fuel and use these resources to contribute towards our energy requirements.
As my work is often based around the environment, this was a fantastic opportunity for me to expand my knowledge of an area of particular interest to me.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Bright ideas, pandemics, social media, and the odd monster...

Blog by Marina Levina: Genomics Forum Bright Ideas Fellow

As my three weeks as a Bright Ideas Fellow at the Genomics Forum end I can’t help but wonder at the whirlwind adventure that this has been.  First, I would like to thank everyone at the Forum for being absolutely lovely and making me feel welcome.  The accommodation and the office were great.   And I really like Edinburgh – what a peaceful and beautiful city it is.  I am looking forward to coming back to it many times over. 

I used my time at the Forum to do a bit of travelling around the Genomics Network.  I presented my work on pandemics and digital technologies at the Cesagen/Department of Sociology event at the University of Lancaster and at Egenis’ Health, Technology and Society research group at the University of Exeter.  These were invaluable experiences.  They allowed me, for the first time, to talk about my book project (on pandemics in the media) and, as a result, I have a much clearer idea of what the book needs to look like.   Being able to visualize the project is important to me as a writer and I am very grateful for these invitations and for hospitality and generosity of my fellow academics at these institutions.  Plus, I believe that I have made connections that will lead to fruitful collaborations in the future. 

I have also travelled to the 4S/EASST conference in Copenhagen, which was a good opportunity to connect with several of my colleagues. 

Finally, I presented my work at a CaféScientifique here in Edinburgh.  This was a bit scary as it required making my work accessible to the general public and also speaking without assistance of slides or media clips.  As a media studies person, I love my clips and images so I was frightened!  But it went over well, and I applaud those who braved rain and fog to come out for the event.  I did reenact a film scene or two – but I guess you can see the video for those embracing moments.  It was liberating to just talk to folks about my work.  I want to thank Steph Wright for organizing the event, for shuttling me to and fro, and for introducing me to Simon’s Cat. 

It was a busy and rewarding time here at the Forum.  Thank you everyone for making it possible! 

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Week Three - Genetic Dating

by Cameron Duguid - Documentary Filmmaker in Residence

Having been intrigued in my first week by the mention of ‘the genetics of scent and attraction’, I must admit, I did kind of brush it off as a novelty subject. However, after a conversation with visiting fellow Craig Roberts, this intrigue quickly developed into serious consideration and my new found interest in genetic dating sites was sparked. The actual implications of this genomic information being used by dating agencies became apparent, and so many questions sprung to mind.

What happens if you are already in a relationship, and, through fateful curiosity, decide to check whether you are compatible with regards to making immune resilient babies? What if the test turns up any other potential hereditary genetic issues? If MHC compatibility is AOK, but the chance of a different genetic disorder are high- what moral obligation do companies dealing with genetic information have to inform of other findings? Or is it only the MHC genes which are assessed? If so how is the testing of individual genes regulated and how are the results stored?...

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

19 September 2012 - Week Two!

by Lindsay Goodall - Documentary Filmmaker in Residence

N and I were sitting in Time 4 Thai on North Castle Street having a quick catch up lunch. It’s the first time I’d seen her since starting at the Forum, and I was telling her what I’d been up to last week and told her all about the Caryl Churchill play I’d been to see at the Traverse on Tuesday.

It’s about a father and his son, sons, who are clones, and about the son(s) confronting their, his, their, father, and it raises questions about the essence of identity, and the ethics of human cloning, and the discussion afterwards touched on everything from post-Marxist playwriting to medical tourism and the selling of organs; and from science as a commercial enterprise to how much of our genome we share with gorillas; and one audience member raised the question whether scientists should be held morally accountable for the science and technology they create; and then there was also a debate about economics and the right to bear children and then someone made a point about the semantics of the phrase ‘to have children’; and then the archetypal mad scientist who cloned Dolly the Sheep claimed that she’s not really a clone after all, just a genomic copy.
I concluded by telling N that it’s a really well-known play and when it premiered 10 years ago it even starred Michael Gambon and Daniel Craig.
“Mmmm, I’d like to clone Daniel Craig” replied N before biting into a crispy vegetable spring roll.

Peter Arnott, playwright in residence at The Forum, directed the rehearsed reading of A Number and was kind enough to do an on-camera interview with me in between rehearsals. The video will be on the Forum website soon along with some highlights from the Q&A.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

E. coli blues in Manchester

by Steph Wright - Genomics Forum Events Manager 

On Thursday 30th August I took a wee trip down to Manchester to play with some E.coli, all in the name of events research. When I say ‘play’, I mean partake in some citizen biology, or DIY Bio for those in the know. It’s all the rage these days in the US and increasingly so round the rest of the world. The playground was Manchester’s MadLab’s new hackspace and the gamesmaker (topical I know) was their DIY Bio group led by Asa Calow, a computer scientist by day, an amateur biologist by night. The session was titled Self-cloning Bacteria (AKA genetic modification for beginners) and it basically involved genetically modifying E. coli and if successful, it would turn bits of the agar plate blue.

“What on earth is DIY Bio?” I hear you cry so let me tell you a bit about it. It’s a movement that originated in the US and it’s a form of citizen science i.e. science carried out by amateur scientists or in some cases, non-scientists. Do It Yourself Biology has been made possible by the reduction in costs of lab equipment in the last decade and its origins is very much in line with hacker culture  (not the malevolent hacker that the media has portrayed, but more the geeky finding-out- how-stuff-works-under-the-cover hacker). DIY Bio is about anyone and everyone practising biology outwith a professional laboratory whether it’s in a garage or hackspace (communal workshop space). Why would people do this? It could be for fun, as a hobby, for the pursuit of scientific knowledge or a chance for people to pursue biology outwith academic or professional institutions.  For more information about the movement, check out www.diybio.org

5th Sept 2012 – day 2 as a Forum Filmmaker-in-residence

by Lindsay Goodall - Documentary Filmmaker in Residence

I was filming an interview with Victoria Wood yesterday so wasn’t at EGN, but Cameron was in and attended the team meeting and found out about some of the events which are coming up, and about some of the people who are going to be visiting over the next few months. Not wanting to miss out on anything I decided to spend the morning diarising the meetings, events and workshops which I want to attend.

I started off on the EGN forum ‘events page’. There is so much going on, from a workshop about Convergent (Bio) Technologies to an evening reception celebrating the work of Gengage; and of course the Innogen 10th Anniversary Celebration in Edinburgh would clash with a discussion on Whole Genome Sequencing in Medical Practice in Cardiff!

From the EGN website I followed links to the Human Genome Organisation, ESRC Festival of Social Science, Café Scientifique, What Scientists Read and many more sites with events in Edinburgh and beyond.

My diary is now looking very full and healthy and I can’t wait to get stuck in. A whole new scientific world is opening up to me and it is very exciting. I feel the door to the academic part of my brain, which has been mostly shut since graduating from my Masters in Visual Anthropology in 2005, is slowly creaking open and I am re-learning to read sentences containing words such as ‘hegemony’ and ‘heuristic’ and ‘interdisciplinarity’.

3rd Sept 2012 – First day as a Forum Filmmaker in Residence

by Lindsay Goodall - Documentary Filmmaker in Residence

Today I started as Documentary Filmmaker in Residence at the ESRC Genomics Forum. I was so thrilled to be offered this post – I even came out of the interview last week buzzing with what I’d learned and full of curiosity at the world around me. I was also really excited that Forum had decided to appoint two filmmakers, and so today I would meet my new filmmaking colleague, the animator Cameron Duguid

Cameron and I spent most of the morning talking about our past work, what we hope to do in this role, the people we both know, and how to approach the residency. We then got stuck in to our research. I started with The Gen – the ESRC Genomics Network’s newsletter – and a brand new notebook in which to take notes.

The first note I wrote was “social and ethical consequences”. I need to keep this at the forefront of my mind whenever I am reading, researching and chatting to EGN colleagues about their work.

As an anthropologist I do not need to learn about the technicalities of the science, but want to look at the people and communities that the science affects and what implications this has for the world around us.

There are so many common assumptions about the life sciences, and genomics in particular, that as a filmmaker there is a vast opportunity to enter into some very heated, topical and pertinent debates where the science clashes with real life humans, and tempers can flare, issues are contested and conflicts arise. This is one of the reasons why I really wanted to undertake this role.